Jan 26, 2007

Abkhazia: UN Reports Progress

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon concludes progress has been made towards fulfilling obligations for conflict resolution as spelled out by the UN Security Council.

Below is an article written by Ekaterina Basilaia published by The Messenger:

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General discussed on 24 January at the Security Council session the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1716 regarding the Abkhazia situation adopted in October 2006.

Ki-moon released his report covering the period between October 2006 and the first half of January 2007 on January 15. The report outlined Georgia's progress in fulfilling the provisions of the UNSC resolution.

The report focused on developments in the Gali region, and highlighted the increasing tensions in resulting from measures undertaken by de facto Abkhaz officials. It called on both sides to refrain from provocations.

Ki-moon praised a number of successful initiatives in the Kodori Gorge, such as the significant decrease in the number of Georgian policemen stationed there [550 policemen in October down to 250 in December], and the destruction of weapons seized as a result of police operations in what is now known as Upper Abkhazia.

As expected, the Security Council did not adopt any resolutions during the session. According to State Minister for Conflict Resolution Merab Antadze, the report refers to the process of reconstruction and infrastructure improvement in Upper Abkhazia.

"The Council will also discuss the next resolution on Abkhazia, which will confirm that Georgia has fulfilled every obligation included in previous resolutions of the UN Security Council, including the one adopted in 2002, which required Georgia to restore order in the Kodori Gorge," Antadze told reporters.

On the eve of the Security Council session, de facto Abkhaz authorities appealed to the international community to invite them to UN headquarters in New York for the upcoming session in April. They stated that in order to inform the Security Council about their stance on conflict settlement, they must be present to provide the UN Security Council with a clear picture on the current situation in the region.

"By using all the means of the economic and political blockade of Abkhazia, the Georgian government misreports the facts and thus creates a false understanding of the situation for the international community. A one-sided approach to the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict does not promote compromise and a peaceful resolution of the conflict," the statement reads.

The Security Council's rotating president, Russian envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin, said earlier that Russia might ask for the invitation of the de facto Abkhaz officials at the UN headquarters during the April sessions.

In the meantime, during the discussion on the situation in the conflict zone, Ekaterine Zghuladze, Georgian Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, stressed that Georgian police troops in Upper Abkhazia do not threaten the breakaway region's security. Zghuladze also expressed the readiness of Tbilisi to continue UNOMIG and peacekeeper monitoring of Upper Abkhazia with representatives from the breakaway region.

According to Zghuladze, the special police operation carried out by Georgia in the Upper Kodori Gorge last summer, "changed the status quo" in that region, clearing it of criminal elements and resulting in the seizure of large amounts of ammunition and weapons. Zghuladze reported that around 270 special Georgian officers remain in the upper part of the gorge, a significant decrease from 800 in July of 2006.

However, Zghuladze's statement has been condemned by de facto officials as "lacking constructiveness despite a positive tone," and aimed at misleading the international community by basing its assumptions on an alleged non-compliance of the Georgian side with the 2006 UN Security Council resolution.