Abkhazia (a self-proclaimed republic within Georgia) does not exclude the possibility of holding negotiations with Georgia on establishing inter-state relations on an equal basis, Igor Akhba, the spokesman for the Abkhaz President, stated during a press conference, which was held in Moscow in the Media-Centre of the Izvestiya newspaper. Akhba stressed that Sukhumi was "ready to establish good neighbourly relations with Georgia." At the same time, if Tbilisi tries to use force to settle the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict, Abkhazia will "have enough spirit and force to fight and win," the spokesman stated. Speaking about the relations with Russia, Akhba noted that "their closer variant was possible." According to him, this is referring to an associated membership, which implies unified currency, customs, foreign policies and joint protection of borders. Akhba stated that Western ambassadors accredited in Tbilisi regularly visited Abkhazia. The US tragedy on September 11 has not radically changed their position. "They are constantly evaluating the situation in reference to Georgian information," he said. In particular, he said that Abkhaz authorities warned UN representatives about a dangerous situation in the Kodori gorge. But the UN was "skeptical" about such information. As a result, a helicopter with five UN observers aboard was shot down by Georgian and Chechen militants in the vicinity of the gorge.