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Georgia Removes Sanctions Against Adjaria

Batumi, Georgia; 19 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The leaders of Georgia and the autonomous province of Adjaria have followed through on measures promised after resolving their dispute yesterday.

Georgia's government lifted a partial blockade and economic sanctions against Adjaria as of midnight local time. Also at midnight, Adjaria lifted a state of emergency that had existed in the province for nearly all of the past four months.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said after his talks with Adjar leader Aslan Abashidze in Batumi yesterday that Abashidze agreed to meet his main demand: allowing free and fair voting in 28 March parliamentary elections.

Saakashvili also said he had agreed with Abashidze on a mechanism that will ensure Tbilisi gets its due share of customs fees from all goods entering the country.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said today the apparent truce is an important move toward stability in the region.