South Ossetia is not the only area that there is ongoing discussion and issues with, within Georgia. Abkhazia is another area that to truly understand what is going on within Georgia, must be understood.
Abkhazia (pronounced /æbˈkeɪʒə/ or /æbˈkɑːziə/, Abkhaz: Аҧсны Apsny, Georgian: აფხაზეთი Apkhazeti or Abkhazeti, Russian: Абха́зия Abhazia) is a region in Georgia that is a de facto independent republic with no international recognition. It is located within the internationally recognized borders of Georgia on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and borders the Russian Federation to the north. Under Georgia's official subdivision, it is an autonomous republic (Georgian: აფხაზეთის ავტონომიური რესპუბლიკა, Abkhaz: Аҧснытәи Автономтәи Республика), with Sukhumi as its capital, bordering the region of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti to the east.
A secessionist movement of the Abkhaz ethnic minority in the region led to the declaration of independence from Georgia in 1992 and the Georgian-Abkhaz armed conflict from 1992 to 1993 which resulted in the Georgian military defeat and the mass exodus and ethnic cleansing of Georgian population from Abkhazia. In spite of the 1994 ceasefire accord and the ongoing UN-monitored and Russian-dominated CIS peacekeeping operation, the sovereignty dispute has not yet been resolved and the region remains divided between the two rival authorities, with over 83 percent of its territory governed by the Russian-backed Sukhumi-based separatist government and about 17 percent governed by the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, recognized by Georgia as the legal authority of Abkhazia, located in the Kodori Valley, part of Georgian-controlled Upper Abkhazia. This dispute remains a source of serious tension between Georgia and Russia.
In May 1998, fighting broke out between Georgians and Abkhaz in Gali district of Abkhazia, when Georgian partisans attempted to take back part of that district By 1998, several tens of thousands of Georgian internally displaced persons (IDPs) had returned to their former homes in Abkhazia’s Gali district. After days of escalating hostilities culminated in a large-scale Abkhaz sweep operation, upwards of 40,000 Georgians were expelled and some 1,500 houses burned. Since that time, the security situation has remained precarious.
During the conflict, Russia played a leading role as mediator. Since December 1993, the UN has chaired negotiations toward a settlement. The UN mediator is the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), currently Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini of Switzerland. A "Group of Friends" of the UN Secretary General (consisting of the United States, France, Germany, Russian Federation, United Kingdom,) supports the UN-led peace process. Russia continues to play a special role as facilitator. Under the auspices of the UN, the two sides met in Geneva in November 1997, where they agreed to establish a Coordination Council to resolve practical issues between them. Within the framework of the Council, three working groups were established to deal with security issues, refugees and IDPs, and economic and social problems.
In early 2000, then-UN Special Representative of the Secretary General Dieter Boden and the Group of Friends drafted and informally presented a document to the parties outlining a possible distribution of competencies between the Abkhaz and Georgian representatives, based on a core respect for Georgian territorial integrity. The Abkhaz side, however, has never accepted the paper as a basis for negotiations.
In 2003, a meeting of the Group of Friends in Geneva began what would become a series of talks with the purpose of defining principles for the political settlement of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. In early 2004, these UN-sponsored talks between Abkhaz authorities and the Georgian government broke off amid growing tensions between the sides. The standstill continued through the end of the year as the Abkhaz carried out protracted elections for a de facto president. In April 2005, meetings between the parties, represented by the new Georgian government of Mikheil Saakashvili and the new Abkhaz leadership, resumed in Geneva with the Group of Friends.