Evaluation of Negotiations between Eduard Shevardnadze and Vladislav Ardzinba

September, 1997

Respondents--Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Abkhazia residing in Tbilisi, Tbilisi permanent residents and Ethnic Abkhaz from Sukhum(i)

The survey was done by two nongovernmental organizations in Tbilisi and Sukhum(i)--the Foundation for the Development of Human Resources (Tbilis) and the Centre for Humanitarian Programmes (Sukhum(i)). The two organizations developed the questionnaire and followed the same survey methodology. Respondents were selected by random sampling and were grouped by age and gender. The total number of respondents were 420, of which 156 were Georgian IDPs from Abkhazia, 156 permanent residents of Tbilisi, and 108 were ethnic Abkhaz in Sukhum(i).

Tbilisi and Sukhumi respondents were asked this question: "What is your evaluation of the negotiations between Eduard Shevardnadze and Vladislav Ardzinba in early September?"

Survey Results

* IDPs from Abkhazia generally were negative about the negotiations, especially men.

* Tbilisi permanent residents manifested more tolerant attitudes toward the negotiations and tended to be more positive.

* Most Georgian IDPs believed that the negotiations were beneficial mainly to Russi and the Abkhaz, but not Georgia. They also thought that the negotiation were a step to the independence of Abkhazia and would help lift the economic blockade on Abkhazia. The IDPs said that they were confused by the negotiations, and skeptical that they would lead to the return of the IDPs to Abkhazia or improvement of their economy of Georgia.

* Most permanent residents of Tbilisi believed that the negotiations were a positive step, but were dubious that they would lead to significant positive results. They were confused by the talks, but believed that they were the only way to avoid a new wave of military actions, victims, and destruction. The Tbilisi population thought that this was a step toward building a new type of state, reconciliation between the Abkhaz and Georgians, and more active citizen diplomacy. They were doubtful that the negotiations would be a pre-condition for the IDPs to return to Abkhazia or would improve the economy of Georgia.

* The Abkhaz from Sukhum(i) thought that the negotiations were a positive step, that they were a breakthrough in the dialogue and conflict resolution, but they were doubtful that the result would be positive. The negotiations caused confusion and ambiguity, but this was the only way to avoid a new wave of military action, victims and destruction. The Abkhaz respondents thought that the negotiations would improve the economies of Abkhazia and Georgia, lift the economic blockade, create a new state, and lead to the return of IDPs.

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