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  Wednesday, October 23, 2019
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Russia's foreign minister said on Friday that a German
Russia's foreign minister said on Friday that a German plan for the resolution of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict was a step in the right direction, but dismissed a proposed agreement on the return of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia as unrealistic.

Sergei Lavrov is currently meeting with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Moscow to discuss the plan. Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia rejected the proposal earlier in the day, calling it "unacceptable."

The German official is on the second day of a two-day trip to Georgia, Abkhazia, and Russia aimed at reducing rising tensions in the region and stopping "spiraling violence."

The German plan, backed by the EU, stipulates a non-violence agreement, confidence-building measures over the next year to lead to a determination of Abkhazia's status, and the return of Georgian refugees.

"The plan is a move in the right direction, because a settlement can only be achieved in stages," Lavrov said, adding however that a proposal to sign a simultaneous agreement on the return of Georgian refugees was "absolutely unrealistic."

Some 300,000 Georgians fled Abkhazia in 1991-93 amid accusations of ethnic cleansing. In mid-May, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution acknowledging ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia and called for the return of Georgian refugees.

Abkhazia broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed in the subsequent hostilities. The two sides signed a ceasefire in 1994 in Moscow.


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