Armenia welcomes end of standoff between Tbilisi and Ajaria

May 6 2004


YEREVAN, MAY 6, ARMENPRESS: Armenia welcomed today the end of the
standoff between the central authorities in neighboring Georgia and
its autonomous region of Ajaria. Hamlet Gasparian, a spokesman for
Armenian foreign ministry, told Armenpress that “Armenia is satisfied
that the confrontation between the central authorities of Georgia and
Ajaria ended without bloodshed and mainly peacefully.”
Gasparian said the end of the conflict is very important for
Georgia and therefore, for the entire South Caucasus on the way of
establishing stability and peace in the region. “Armenia welcomes the
consistent and decisive policy of the Georgian authorities that has
helped to overcome that serious obstacle,” Gasparian said.
Georgia’s standoff with Ajaria ended as Aslan Abashidze, the
leader of the defiant region, resigned Wednesday night and left the
country for Moscow. “Aslan has run away, Ajaria is free,”‘ Georgian
president Mikhail Saakashvili said in a broadcast early today from
the capital Tbilisi. “A new era has begun in Georgia’s history,” he
said. Before flying to Moscow Abashidze ordered his paramilitary
forces to lay down their arms.
Saakashvili later arrived in Ajaria’s capital, Batumi, where he
was greeted by crowds of supporters. Saakashvili who had given
Abashidze until May 12 to disarm local militias or have his
government dissolved, imposed direct presidential rule only hours
before Abashidze left. The end of the standoff was also welcomed by
the US State Department.
Abashidze had run Ajaria independently from the central government
in Tbilisi since the early 1990s.
“Georgian government will not persecute former supporters of Aslan
Abashidze. We have come here for love and not to separate the
nation,” Georgian prime minister Zurab Zhvania said in a televised