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    SENATOR MARGELOV ON RUSSIA'S EFFICIENT MEDIATORY ROLE IN SETTLING SOUTH CAUCASUS CONFLICTS

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 19, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI) - Mikhail Margelov, the chairman of the international committee of the Federation Council (the upper chamber of Russia's parliament), thinks efficient the role of Russia as a mediator in settling conflict situations in the South Caucasus.

    "As was the case with the crisis in Tbilisi that led to a velvet revolution, Russia has again demonstrated that it is not conducting an imperial policy in the Caucasus. Russia has not resorted to the use of force but has come out as a mediator," Margelov told a press conference.

    According to him, the method of settling differences between Tbilisi and Batumi (capital of Adzharia) can be "a pilot project" for settling Tbilisi's relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia (the self-proclaimed republics in Georgia).

    Margelov said that the recent situation in Georgia can produce a positive effect on settling the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts.

    "I welcome the wisdom of Saakashvili and Abashidze, who were able to think strategically," Mikhail Margelov stressed.

    The Russian senator sees as the priority goal of the Georgian leadership the modernization of Georgia and overcoming the effects of the years of civil war, which is de-facto underway in Georgia.

    Asked about the trip of Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov to Batumi, Margelov said: "It is pleasant that he displayed goodwill. As a fellowman I can understand him. I'm glad that everything has been settled peacefully," the senator said.

    At the same time, he added that the Federation Council instructed its committee for the CIS affairs and the international committee to give a legal assessment to Luzhkov's trip to Batumi. This assessment will be given within one week, Margelov said.

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