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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgia Seeks Abkhazia Intervention

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on Monday called on the international community to use force to end the five-year old conflict in the breakaway province of Abkhazia as it did in Bosnia.

"If the negotiation process does not bring any results, and ... no results have been achieved during the last five years, then the use of force to ensure peace would be absolutely justified,'' Shevardnadze said in a regular radio address.

"Bosnia, where concrete results have been achieved, could serve as an example,'' he said.

The statement, which followed years of fruitless talks with separatists pushing for full independence, appeared aimed at forcing them to make concessions and agree to bow to some degree of Georgian control.

Abkhazian rebels seized the lush Black Sea province in a bloody 1992-93 war, which turned some 300,000 ethnic Georgians into refugees. Only about 30,000 to 40,000 refugees have been able to come home as officials have balked at their return, and Shevardnadze has been under strong pressure to solve the crisis.

Georgia has urged Russia, which has deployed a peacekeeping force in the region, to intensify its mediation efforts. Western nations so far largely have left it to Russia to mediate in the conflict, although a council to deal with the crisis was set up in Geneva last year.

In his radio address, Shevardnadze called on the United Nations' Security Council to provide legal framework for steps to help establish peace in the secessionist region.

Shevardnadze said that unlike Bosnia, Abkhazia should not be divided into ethnic enclaves.

Last fall, the leaders of Georgia and Abkhazia held several unprecedented meetings in the most serious attempt since the war to find a peace settlement.

There has been little progress, however, on the key issue of Abkhazia's status. The separatists demand sovereignty, while the Georgian government says Abkhazia should settle for broad autonomy as part of Georgia.