'I will never ask Ajaria to send troops to Tbilisi,' Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze announced on Ajarian television yesterday. He said that he had discussed various issues with the leader of the Ajarian autonomous republic at their meeting in Batumi. The main topic had been Georgia's unity and power and the achievements of Ajaria, which the president said he and all Georgia were proud of.
Ajaria does not have its own army although a Russian military base is located there. On the eve of Mr Shevardnadze's visit to Batumi, leader of the opposition Mikhail Saakashvili announced that the Georgian leader was hoping that soldiers from this military base would provide military assistance in Tbilisi. According to Mr Saakashvili, a trilateral union has been struck between Mr Shevardnadze, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze.
The Georgian president stressed that the only solution to the current political crisis will be provided by keeping law and order. It is not clear what the regional leader promised the Georgian president other than moral support. However, Mr Shevardnadze assured journalists on his return that his trip had been successful.