Factbox on Adzhara region

FACTBOX-Factbox on Adzhara region

LONDON, Mar 17 (Reuters) – Georgia offered the rebel region of Adzhara
an olive branch of talks on Wednesday but kept up an economic
stranglehold on the territory.

Here are basic facts about the Adzhara region in Georgia:

Adzhara has a population of 400,000 and is located on the coastline of
the Black Sea in the southwest of Georgia.

The capital, Batumi, is a large oil refining centre which supplies
Georgia and neighbouring Armenia. After Georgian President Mikhail
Saakashvili was prevented from entering the region this weekend,
Georgian troops cut rail and road access, forcing the 200,000
barrel-per-day oil terminal to stop loading oil.

The region declares itself to be autonomous although it’s status has
not been resolved since Georgia declared independence in 1991 after
the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The president of Adzhara, Aslan Abashidze, is backed by Russia which
keeps a controversial Soviet-era military base outside Batumi, seen as
leverage against Georgia.

Adzhars are ethnic Georgians but unlike most Georgians, who are mostly
Christian, the Adzhars are Muslims after centuries of Turkish
occupation, which ended in the 19th century.

03/17/04 12:20 ET