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The leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia believe that Russia's role as peacekeeper is the main stability factor in the region
The leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the self-proclaimed republics in Georgia, believe that Russia's role as peacekeeper and intermediary is the main stability factor in the region, said a press release signed by Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh and South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity after their meeting here. Bagapsh and Kokoity agreed to coordinate their efforts in the interest of peace and stability in the region and on the development of future cooperation. The sides confirmed their determination to settle conflicts only by political means and agreed to continue the negotiation process in its current format. The leaders also agreed to develop a more active cooperation in the economic, cultural and information spheres. The situation in Abkhazia deteriorated between 1990 and 1991 after Georgia announced the restoration of its 1918 constitution, proclaiming Georgia a unitary state and banning territorial autonomies. Abkhazia then restored its 1928 constitution proclaiming Abkhazia's sovereignty. In 1992, Georgian troops entered Abkhazia. Abkhazians offered stiff resistance forcing Georgia to withdraw from the territory of the republic in September of 1993. The conflict caused severe damage to the Abkhazian economy. The conflict left 7,000 people dead and between 200,000 and 250,000 people as refugees. Russia mediated an agreement on a ceasefire and separation of forces signed by Georgia and Abkhazia on May 14, 1994 in Moscow. It became the basis for the deployment of the CIS Collective Peacekeeping forces, which maintain the region's ceasefire. Relations between Georgia and South Ossetia deteriorated on December 9, 1990, when the Georgian Supreme Council abolished the South Ossetian autonomous region and declared a state of emergency. In January 1991, Georgian Interior Ministry troops entered the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali. As a result of armed clashes, thousands of people, mainly civilians, on both sides were killed and wounded. Tens of thousands, mainly South Ossetians, fled the region. On January 20, 1991, Georgian troops were forced to withdraw from the city, although active combat between the Ossetian and Georgian militants continued until the spring of 2002. On January 19, 1992, South Ossetia held a referendum resulting in the Sovereignty Act adopted by the Supreme Council of South Ossetia. The Dagomys Agreements signed by the new Georgian leadership on June 14, 1992 brought a formal end to the conflict. The deployment of the Russian-Georgian-Ossetian peacekeeping contingent in the conflict zone pacified the region even further. The creation of the Joint Control Committee on the settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict also played a crucial role in the process
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