Duma official views Ajaria’s role in regional, religious context

Russian Duma official views Ajaria’s role in regional, religious context

Moskovskiy Komsomolets, Moscow
7 May 04

Commentary by Andrey Kokoshin, chairman of State Duma CIS Affairs
Committee, entitled “Another View” carried by Russian newspaper
Moskovskiy Komsomolets on 7 May

“It is essential to approach the situation in [Georgia’s] Ajaria in a
broader regional and global context.

“Our executive branch of power, the State Duma, always drew to the
attention of [the Georgian capital] Tbilisi that the problem should
not under any circumstances be resolved by the use of military
force. Partly because the Muslim factor plays an immense role there in

“It borders on Turkey. Currently Turkey is officially a secular state
but recently the influence of radical Islamists has been growing
there. And if force had been used in this situation, the region could
have been badly destabilized and armed radical Islamists might have
appeared in Ajaria.

“Ajaria might have served as a flashpoint for the radicalisation of
Muslims all over Georgia and throughout the South Caucasus. This would
have become a big problem for Russia, our strategic ally Armenia,
fraternal Azerbaijan, and the whole world community.”