Georgia. During the latter part of the year, Georgia was
in the shadow of the Russian Federation's war against the
breakaway republic of Chechnya. Georgia accused the Russian
federation of violating Georgian airspace and bombing
Georgian villages. In August, Moscow acknowledged such an
attack and apologized. In November, Georgia made new
accusations before the UN Security Council. The Russian
Federation responded by accusing Georgia of allowing arms
smuggling across its border into Chechnya. Moscow demanded
Russian soldiers to guard the Georgian border, but Georgia
who felt militarily threatened refused.
Countryaah official website, President Eduard Shevardnadze's Western-friendly foreign
policy also came into conflict with the Russian Federation.
He supported NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia in the spring and
expressed his desire to see Georgia as a member of NATO by
2005. During the year, Georgia joined the Council of Europe.
However, in November, the Georgia and Russian Federations
agreed that the Russian Federation should, until 2001,
reduce the forces and shut down two of the four military
bases that the country has had in Georgia since the
dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In the October parliamentary elections, Shevardnadze's
central party won the Citizens' Union with 42% of the vote.
The Georgia Renewal Union, an alliance of small parties
formed in protest of economic deterioration, came in second
place with 26%. Government and opposition blamed each other
for electoral fraud, and OSCE observers reported significant
In November, an agreement on new oil and gas pipelines
was signed from the Caspian Sea via Azerbaijan, Georgia and
Turkey to the port city of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. It
is hoped that the oil pipeline will be completed in 2004,
but economic analysts questioned whether the oil in the
Caspian Sea is sufficient for the project to be profitable.
In November, the Abkhazian outbreak region declared the
region independent from Georgia, after 98% voted in a
referendum. Shevardnadze condemned both the referendum and
the presidential elections held in Abkhazia and the
breakaway region of South Ossetia.
In October, a group of armed men took seven UN observers
hostage in Abkhazia, including the Swede Jörgen Öberg. All
were released undamaged after a few days.