Abkhazia: Georgia Ready for UN Monitoring in Upper Kodori
Upon completion of a session of the coordinating group on the Abkhazian and South Ossetian peaceful settlement on Thursday, Antadze told journalists Tbilisi “is ready for conducting the U.N. monitoring in the upper part of the Kodori gorge.” “Georgia is absolutely ready to ensure all conditions for the U.N. monitoring in the upper part of the Kodori gorge.”
“Now we’re waiting for a response from the U.N. Observer Mission in Georgia. These proposals are preparing by the U.N. Mission and the monitoring will be conducted shortly,” the minister said.
“As we have said before, Georgia is ready to provide for monitoring the upper part of the Kodori gorge in Abkhazia on August 20 with the assistance of military observers from the UN mission in Georgia. Yet, Russian peacekeepers from the collective force will not take part in it,” he said.
“The Georgian side will fully provide for the delivery of UN observers to the upper part of the Kodori gorge and their security,” he said.
As for the possible participation of Russian representatives in the monitoring, the minister said, “there are Russian representatives amongst the U.N. observers, and, naturally, they can and should take part in the monitoring.”
Abkhazia strongly objects to the monitoring of the upper part of the Kodori gorge by observers of the U.N. Observer Mission in Georgia only. Abkhazia’s presidential envoy Ruslan Kishmaria said Sukhumi insists on the joint patrolling in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone with the participation of Russian peacekeepers from the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the CIS.
“Abkhazia is against the monitoring of the upper part of the gorge by U.N. military observers only, as under the May 14, 1994 Moscow agreement on ceasefire the monitoring should be conducted jointly with Russian peacekeepers,” Kishmaria said.
The chief military observer of the U.N. mission, General Hattak, and the commander of the Collective Peacekeeping Forces, Major-General Sergei Chaban, went along with this view, noting that the agreement on ceasefire and disengagement of the forces envisages joint Russian-U.N. patrolling.
Kishmaria stressed that if the Georgian authorities reject the participation of Russian peacekeepers in the monitoring of the upper part of the Kodori gorge, the Abkhazian side will prohibit the monitoring in the lower part of the Kodori gorge the Abkhazian authorities control.
Georgia’s authorities have confirmed their readiness for the resumption of U.N. monitoring of the upper part of the Kodori gorge as of August 20, suspended three years ago due to “a lack of security conditions,” Itar-Tass correspondent in Tbilisi Eka Mekhuzla reports.
Georgian Deputy Defence Minister Mamuka Kudava said, “The Georgian side also confirms its readiness to provide sufficient safety conditions” for foreign military observers.
At the same time, he said that Georgia was against the participation of representatives from the Collective Peacekeeping Force CPKF (manned by Russian military) in the monitoring operations.
“The existing agreements contain no provisions for the participation of CPKF representatives in monitoring the upper part of the Gorge,” Kudava said.
In the meantime, the deputy commander-in-chief of Russia’s ground troops for peacekeeping forces, Lieutenant-General Valery Yevnevich, said in Moscow “Georgia pegs monitoring to compliance with a number of far-fetched pre-conditions, such as return patrolling of the lower part of the gorge and international monitoring of the former Russian base in Gudauta.”
He recalled that that “since a helicopter carrying United Nations military observers was shot down in the upper part of the Kodori gorge three years ago no patrolling has been carried out in the area.”