Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
Mr Shevardnadze and I talked until well past midnight yesterday and we have covered practically the whole range of our interaction. This morning we discussed the same issues with Mr Gagulia.
I think I can speak for all of us if I note that after a period of virtual, and I stress, virtual stagnation (because some attempts to solve the Abkhazian problem have been made at the purely legal level), all the parties involved have realised that we need to give a new impetus to the solution of the main issues that worry all of us, above all the people who suffer from this abnormal situation. I am referring to the aspects to which we paid particular attention with Mr Shevardnadze yesterday: above all the return of refugees, the development of economic cooperation in the region as a whole, and in Abkhazia and Georgia in particular. We included the development of the transport infrastructure and energy among such issues.
Mr Shevardnadze, I can tell you that I have talked over the phone with the people in Moscow who deal with this range of problems, and experts believe that the proposals you made yesterday during our conversation in the evening are feasible in principle. It calls for additional efforts and further discussion, but I hope that the three of us will be able to discuss them today.
Eduard Shevardnadze: Thank you very much. I am very pleased that we are having a three-way meeting. I don’t think it is accidental. We have all become convinced that the time has come to solve all the issues in the interests of Georgia, Abkhazia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, which has passed several resolutions on the matter, as well as on the basis of the UN Security Council Resolution and understandings among us. By the way, previously, under your predecessors, we met more frequently. Unfortunately, Vladislav Ardzinba could not come this time. So I am pleased that we are having a meeting in this format. I hope we will arrive at some decisions that will suit all of us.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you. I hope that our Abkhazian colleagues will support the efforts and tentative agreements reached during our previous meetings and negotiations.
Gennady Gagulia: Thank you very much, Mr Putin. Of course, my role in this meeting is, frankly, not very clear, but we represent Abkhazia, which has many unresolved issues. I hope that this meeting will give new momentum to the negotiating process. I hope that this meeting will enable us to answer the questions that we will discuss, and enable us to solve many problems. One should start building a house from the foundation and proceed little by little. I think that by adding something every day, we will be able to build the large house of our Commonwealth, which we are all talking about, and we will solve the issues relevant to all of us in that big home.