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    EC SPOKESMAN INVITES TBILISI AND BATUMI TO DISPLAY RESTRAINT

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    TBILISI, March 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Herwig van Staa, President of the Congress of the Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, has invited Tbilisi and Batumi to display restraint and avoid the use of force.

    The congress attaches much importance to the continuation of political dialogue between the central and regional authorities. The dialogue should, in the first place, be based on the full observance of the democratic standards recognised by the members of the European Council, says the open letter of the EC representative to Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and head of the Adzharian autonomy Aslan Abashidze.

    The document notes that tension existing between the centre and the autonomous region once again points to the need of forming for Adzharia a clear and efficient legislative base definitely outlining its obligations and powers, the Georgian EC mission said.

    The congress maintains regional self-government but this never means support for separatism. The regional authorities should closely cooperate with the central authorities to ensure the basic rights for all citizens, the supremacy of law and pluralistic democracy, the letter said.

    The congress is ready to help the authorities of Georgia in meeting this and other goals, in the sphere of local and regional democracy. Proposals for the strengthening of local and regional democracy in Georgia will be formulated in the monitoring report of the congress. The plenary session in Strasbourg on May 25 through 27, 2004 will consider the report.

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