The Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) for an additional six months, until 12 July. The extension is subject to a review by the Council if changes are made in the mandate of the peace-keeping force of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) currently deployed there.
By unanimously adopting resolution 1036 (1996), the Council also condemned the ethnic killings and continuing human rights violations committed in Abkhazia, Georgia, and called upon the Abkhaz side to ensure the safety of all persons in areas it controls. Full support was expressed for the elaboration of a programme to protect and promote human rights in Abkhazia, as proposed by the Secretary- General, and there was a call to the Abkhaz authorities to cooperate with efforts towards that end.
Also by the resolution, the Council demanded that the Abkhaz side accelerate the process of voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons by accepting a timetable on the basis of that proposed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It further demanded that it guarantee the safety of spontaneous returnees already in the area and regularize their status in accordance with the 1994 Quadripartite Agreement on their return, which was signed by the Abkhaz and Georgian sides, the Russian Federation and the UNHCR. In that context, the Abkhaz side was called upon to promote, as a first step, the return of refugees and displaced persons to the Gali region in safety and dignity.
The parties were called upon to improve their cooperation with UNOMIG and CIS peace-keeping force in order to provide a secure environment for the return of refugees and displaced persons. They were also called upon to honour their commitments with regard to security and freedom of movement of all United Nations and CIS personnel and with regard to UNOMIG inspections of heavy weapons storage sites.
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The Council reaffirmed its full support for the efforts of the Secretary- General to achieve a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict; addressing the political status of Abkhazia and respecting fully the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. It requested him to report in three months on all aspects of the situation there.
Statements were made by the representatives of Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea, Poland, Russian Federation, Guinea-Bissau, China, Indonesia, Botswana, Honduras, Egypt, United States, France, Chile and United Kingdom. The representative of Georgia also spoke.
The meeting was called to order at 3:45 p.m. and adjourned at 5:14 p.m.
Report on Situation in Abkhazia
The Security Council meets this afternoon to consider a report of the Secretary-General in which he recommends the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) for a further period of six months, until 12 July.
He adds, however, that as the situation in Abkhazia and the mandate of the peace-keeping force of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will be considered at the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the CIS on 19 January, it would be appropriate to make the extension of UNOMIG's mandate subject to an early review by the Security Council, should decisions taken at that meeting result in changes in the mandate of the CIS peace-keeping force there.
According to the report (document S/1996/5, of 2 January), despite strenuous efforts in the past few months by the Russian Federation, in its capacity as facilitator, to draft a protocol acceptable to both parties to the conflict, there has been very little progress and the Georgian-Abkhaz peace process remains deadlocked. [The primary objective of the draft protocol would be to establish a basic understanding of principles on which a more detailed agreement could be elaborated.] The key issue continues to be the future political status of Abkhazia.
The President of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze, has stated that the present deadlock should not be allowed to continue and new initiatives are needed, says the report. He announced to his United Nations interlocutors his intention to raise the issue of the Abkhaz conflict again at the upcoming meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the CIS. In particular, he wishes to see an enlargement of the mandate of the CIS peace-keeping force, which should also be deployed throughout the whole territory of Abkhazia and not only in the Gali district.
The Abkhaz leader, Vladislav Ardzinba, has stated that the only basis for a successful continuation of the talks is the declaration on measures for a political settlement of the Georgian/Abkhaz conflict and the quadripartite agreement on voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons signed in Moscow on 4 April 1994, the report states. In his view, a union agreement between Georgia and Abkhazia, in which both sides enjoy equal rights, would represent a guarantee against the renewal of hostilities.
Reviewing developments in the region, the report says that presidential and parliamentary elections were held in Georgia in November 1995. Mr. Shevardnadze was elected President of Georgia by an overwhelming majority of votes on 5 November, and a new Parliament was formed and held its first session on 25 November. Elections were not held in the districts of Abkhazia where the central Government of Georgia does not exercise de facto jurisdiction. In accordance with the election law, parliamentarians from Abkhazia in the Georgian
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Parliament had their mandates extended until such time as elections can be held in Abkhazia.
According to the report, in his inaugural address of 26 November 1995, President Shevardnadze said that Georgia should have a federal territorial arrangement and Abkhazia would be one of the parts of the federation, with a broad political status and its own Constitution compatible with that of the Federal State. The "Republic of Abkhazia" would have its parliament, supreme court, anthem, state emblem and other symbols. He further stated that the immediate return of the refugees and the definition of the status of Abkhazia must take place without delay and that the Georgian side stood ready to engage in dialogue at all levels, including bilateral negotiations.
The Secretary-General says that the humanitarian situation remains relatively unchanged since last October. Also, the situation of displaced persons has not changed significantly during the period under review. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the volume of movements by displaced persons back and forth across the Inguri river has remained high. In addition, looting continues in the lower zone bordering the Gali canal, discouraging displaced persons to return.
The Secretary-General says that his Special Envoy and his Deputy had taken the initiative to hold consultations with the Abkhaz authorities on a programme for the protection and promotion of human rights in Abkhazia. In cooperation with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), they will elaborate a programme that will be discussed with the Abkhaz authorities. It is to be carried out by the United Nations in cooperation with the OSCE and with the participation of UNHCR, as well as other agencies and organizations. In principle, the Abkhaz authorities have shown interest in and support for the idea, but they would like to examine the concrete programme before giving their agreement to it, the report adds.
The situation in the UNOMIG area of responsibility remained unsettled and tense, the report continues. There were 23 violent incidents reported in that area during the period under review, of which 21 occurred on the Abkhaz side of the Inguri river.
Cooperation between UNOMIG and the CIS peace-keeping force continues to be satisfactory at all levels and regular meetings are held to discuss problems of mutual concern, says the report, adding that the exchange of information between UNOMIG and the CIS peace-keeping force, which had been an issue in the past, has been timely and forthcoming.
Addressing financial aspects, the Secretary-General states that should the Council decide to extend the mandate of UNOMIG beyond 12 January, the monthly cost of maintaining the Mission until 30 June will be limited to the commitment authority contained in General Assembly resolution 49/231 B -- that is a monthly rate not exceeding $1,334,500 gross for the period from 13 January to 30 June.
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Also before the Council is a letter dated 8 January from Georgia addressed to the Council President (document S/1996/9). It refers to an incident on 5 January in the Gali region when Abkhaz boeviks tortured and killed innocent civilians. "The President of Georgia has expressed his strong conviction that the incident was aimed at thwarting the peace process and at institutionalizing ethnic cleansing and genocide of Georgians in the Abkhazian region", the letter states.
The Council also has before it a draft resolution (document S/1996/16), which reads as follows:
"The Security Council
"Reaffirming all its relevant resolutions, in particular resolution 993 (1995) of 12 May 1995,
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 2 January 1996 (S/1996/5),
"Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia,
"Stressing the need for the parties to intensify efforts, under the auspices of the United Nations and with the assistance of the Russian Federation as facilitator, to achieve an early and comprehensive political settlement of the conflict, including on the political status of Abkhazia, fully respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia,
"Noting the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections in Georgia in November 1995 and expressing the hope that these will contribute positively to the achievement of a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia.
"Reaffirming also the right of all refugees and displaced persons affected by the conflict to return to their homes in secure conditions in accordance with international law and as set out in the Quadripartite Agreement of 14 April 1994 on voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons (S/1994/397, annex II),
"Deploring the continued obstruction of such return by the Abkhaz authorities,
"Deeply concerned over the deterioration in the humanitarian situation, in particular in the Gali region where there is a continued lack of a secure environment,
"Deeply concerned also at the rising violence and at the ethnic killings being committed in the areas under the control of the Abkhaz side reported in the
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letter of 8 January 1996 from the Permanent Representative of Georgia to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/1996/9),
"Recalling the conclusions of the Budapest summit of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (S/1994/1435, annex) regarding the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia,
"Reaffirming the necessity for the parties to comply strictly with international humanitarian law,
"Noting that the Moscow Agreement of 14 May 1994 on a Cease-fire and Separation of Forces (S/1994/583, annex I) has generally been respected by the parties with the assistance of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peace-keeping forces and the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG),
"Expressing its satisfaction with the close cooperation and coordination between UNOMIG and the CIS peace-keeping force in the performance of their respective mandates and commending the contribution both have made to stabilize the situation in the zone of conflict,
"Expressing concern about the safety and security of UNOMIG and CIS personnel and stressing the importance it attaches to their freedom of movement,
"Noting that the forthcoming meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the CIS to be held in Moscow on 19 January 1996 will consider the extension of the mandate of the CIS peace-keeping forces,
"1. Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General of 2 January 1996;
"2. Expresses its deep concern at the continued deadlock in the efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia;
"3. Reaffirms its full support for the efforts of the Secretary-General aimed at achieving a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict, including on the political status of Abkhazia, respecting fully the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, as well as for the efforts that are being undertaken by the Russian Federation in its capacity as facilitator to intensify the search for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, and encourages the Secretary-General to continue his efforts, with the assistance of the Russian Federation as facilitator, and with the support of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to that end;
"4. Calls upon the parties, in particular the Abkhaz side, to achieve substantive progress without further delay towards a comprehensive political settlement and further calls upon them to cooperate fully with the efforts undertaken by the Secretary-General with the assistance of the Russian Federation as facilitator;
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"5. Demands that the Abkhaz side accelerate significantly the process of voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons by accepting a timetable on the basis of that proposed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and further demands that it guarantee the safety of spontaneous returnees already in the area and regularize their status in accordance with the Quadripartite Agreement;
"6. Calls upon the Abkhaz side in that context to promote, as a first step, the return of refugees and displaced persons to the Gali region, in safety and dignity;
"7. Condemns the ethnic killings and continuing human rights violations committed in Abkhazia, Georgia, and calls upon the Abkhaz side to ensure the safety of all persons in areas under its control;
"8. Calls upon the parties to improve their cooperation with UMOMIG and the CIS peace-keeping force in order to provide a secure environment for the return of refugees and displaced persons and also calls upon them to honour their commitments with regard to the security and freedom of movement of all United Nations and CIS personnel and with regard to UNOMIG inspections of heavy weapons storage sites;
"9. Welcomes the additional measures implemented by UNOMIG and the CIS peace-keeping force in the Gali region aimed at improving conditions for the safe and orderly return of refugees and displaced persons, and all appropriate efforts in this regard;
"10. Expresses its full support for the elaboration of a concrete programme for the protection and promotion of human rights in Abkhazia, Georgia, as described in the Secretary-General's report of 2 January 1996 and calls upon the Abkhaz authorities to cooperate fully with the efforts to this end;
"11. Decides to extend the mandate of UNOMIG for an additional period terminating on 12 July 1996 subject to a review by the Council of the mandate of UNOMIG in the event of any changes that may be made in the mandate of the CIS peace-keeping force;
"12. Reiterates its encouragement to States to contribute to the voluntary fund in support of the implementation of the Agreement on a Cease-fire and Separation of Forces signed in Moscow on 14 May 1994 and/or humanitarian aspects including demining, as specified by the donors;
"13. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to keep the Council regularly informed and to report after three months from the date of the adoption of this resolution on all aspects of the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, including the operations of UNOMIG;
"14. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
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PETER CHKHEIDZE (Georgia) said that the firm position of the Security Council on the developments in his country had repeatedly thwarted the aspirations of the separatists to divide Georgia and call its sovereignty into question. The Georgian people were gratified by the strong Council stand against any manifestation of separatism.
He said that the conflict in Abkhazia was only part of the totalitarian revenge scheme staged by henchmen. Unfortunately, due to economic, political and geographical factors, the Caucasus had turned into the main theatre of those dramatic developments. He questioned whether it was possible to forget that, not so long ago, leaders of the Abkhaz separatists had joined those who had attempted to save the Soviet empire and were the most active members of the radical group known as "Soyuz". Equipped with communist slogans, separatists had provoked the confrontation and had turned it into a lasting ethnic conflict. The separatists continued their intimidation of the civilian population through kidnappings, torture and summary executions. "Their victims are not only Georgians but also those Abkhaz who have realized the true motive of the conflict and condemned the adventurist policies of the separatists."
Despite Council resolutions, only a small portion of displaced persons had been able to return to the region of Gali, he said. They were unprotected and under constant threats of being evicted from their homes forever or executed. On 5 January, in the village of Shesheleti of the Gali region, Abkhaz boeviks had tortured and killed innocent civilians. By carrying out such actions, the separatists had again overridden numerous Council resolutions and had ignored the presence of the United Nations observers and the CIS peace-keeping forces in the region. The separatist leaders were trying to drag out the conflict and turn it into a Balkan-like conflagration.
The Georgian Government was committed to the peaceful resolution of the conflict, he stated. The Georgian population's adherence to that course had been reflected in the recent elections held in Georgia on 5 November 1995. The numerous breaches of agreements by the Abkhaz side had made it obvious that peace had to be enforced. The enforcement of peace was the only solution for Bosnia and Herzegovina and for the Caucasus. The recent massacre in the Gali region had been aimed at hampering the peace process and at the institutionalization of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Georgians in the Abkhaz region. The Council should help stop the bloodshed and restore peace to Georgia.
The Council President, Sir JOHN WESTON (United Kingdom), put the draft resolution to the vote.
GERHARD HENZE (Germany) began by discussing the situation in Liberia, expressing deep concern about the recent fighting there. The Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG) had been attacked by one of the warring factions in the Tubmanburg area. He strongly condemned any
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attacks on peace-keeping forces and extended deep condolences to the governments of ECOMOG and the victims' families.
Turning to the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, he said the draft resolution was well-balanced and comprehensive. It was clear and unambiguous in pointing at those responsible for the deadlock in the political negotiation process, and specific in what the Council could expected from the Abkhaz side.
Germany would vote in favour of the draft resolution, he said. It was understood that the draft resolution would eventually have to be reviewed in light of the results of the CIS Summit meeting scheduled for 19 January. It was imperative to quickly put an end to the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia. Peace could only be achieved by a mutually satisfactory compromise, on the basis of full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity, and in the framework of the newly adopted constitution, of Georgia. The new Georgian constitution provided ample room for a federative arrangement for Abkhazia. That was the direction that Georgia's head of State and its Government were willing to go. It was the Abkhaz side which was clearly responsible for the virtual standstill in the negotiation process.
He expressed the hope that the draft resolution to be adopted today would convince the Abkhaz side that all Council members were unambiguous in their commitment to the full territorial integrity of Georgia. Nobody in Abkhazia should expect that the international community would change that fundamental position or come to support the refusal to conduct meaningful negotiations. A fundamental rethinking on the Abkhaz side was imperative, and the impatience of the Council was growing. Ethnic killings and the creation of an atmosphere of violence and insecurity in order to discourage the return of refugees and displaced persons were totally unacceptable to the international community. The results of so-called "ethnic cleansing" would not be accepted or recognized". This is the message we want to get across to the Abkhaz side", he said.
He expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in the territories under Abkhaz control, and about the 250,000 refugees and displaced persons who had been forced out of their homes. There had been little real progress in that area, mainly due to the unchanged political situation and the uncooperative stance of the Abkhaz authorities. He welcomed the fact that the UNHCR could resume its presence in the Gali region.
Germany full and wholeheartedly supported the efforts of the Secretary-General aimed at a comprehensive political settlement, with the assistance of the Russian Federation as a facilitator, he said. Both the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Ambassador Brunner, and his resident Deputy, Ambassador Bota, should be commended for their dedicated work in a difficult situation. The Russian Federation's efforts as facilitator were equally indispensable; Russia seemed best equipped to actually make the Abkhaz side listen.
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While supporting what UNOMIG was doing on the ground, he expressed concern about the possible prospect of renewing UNOMIG's mandate time and again without any tangible political progress. "We do not wish to contribute to a perpetuation of the present situation in Abkhazia, but see UNOMIG as a valuable instrument to generate a meaningful and effective peace process", he said, adding that it was with that understanding that Germany supported the extension of the UNOMIG's mandate for another six months.
The PRESIDENT said he was sure Council members wanted to associate themselves with the expression of condolences conveyed by the representative of Germany to the families of those who had lost their lives in Liberia while on service to ECOMOG.
LORENZO FERRARIN (Italy) said he would vote for the draft resolution to renew the mandate of the Mission. Its contents were a clear indication of the Council's position on Abkhazia. Basic political conditions must be set to support the negotiations. The parties, especially the Abkhaz leadership, should step up their efforts to find a comprehensive solution to the crisis, based on the principles, affirmed by the Council, of the sovereignty of Georgia and its territorial integrity. Italy would support the draft resolution based on its growing concern over the humanitarian situation in Abkhazia, especially in the Gali region. He expressed shock over the event in the village of Shesheleti, which seemed to confirm the increasing climate of violence noted in the Secretary-General's report.
The representative said that UNOMIG's action was not to contribute to an indefinite paralysis of the situation but to play a dynamic role. It should help to restore a climate of security that would finally make it possible to settle the crucial problem of the return of refugees. The close collaboration between the UNOMIG, UNHCR and OSCE represented positive ground in a general context that unfortunately did not carry many promises of a breakthrough, as the Secretary- General's report had underlined. Nevertheless, the United Nations, the Russian facilitator and the OSCE must pursue their efforts; other crises once considered intractable had ultimately led to peace agreements and the Abkhaz question, too, could be settled through negotiations.
PARK SOO-GIL (Republic of Korea), noting that he was a new member of the Council, expressed full support for the Secretary-General's efforts to achieve a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict, including the question of the future status of Abkhazia. Given the historical realities of that issue, he recognized the need for Abkhazia to possess a certain degree of autonomy. However, as the Council had reiterated on various occasions, any settlement of the conflict must be based upon the principle of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.
Expressing deep concern over the lack of progress in the political discussions to date, he said he hoped that the Abkhaz side would adopt a more flexible and realistic approach to that question, so that a timely and acceptable outcome for
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both sides might be reached. Although there had been no armed confrontations between the two parties recently, the ongoing impasse in the political process and the continued reports of criminal activity, such as looting, beatings and torture, particularly in the Gali region, were a source of grave concern. The plight of refugees and displaced persons in the region was particularly worrisome. He called on the Abkhaz authorities to accede to a pragmatic timetable and expedite the process of the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons in accordance with the procedures proposed by the UNHCR under the Quadripartite Agreement. He called upon the parties to further cooperate with the UNOMIG, the CIS peace-keeping force and the UNHCR to create an environment conductive to the return of refugees and displaced persons.
The Republic of Korea's participation in UNOMIG was an expression of its strong commitment to the United Nations effort to achieve a lasting political settlement in Abkhazia, Georgia, he said, reaffirming his Government's commitment toward that end. He would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
ZBIGNIEW MATUSZEWSKI (Poland) said the most appropriate words to describe both the substance and the pace of the process of normalization in the area were "deadlock" and "unchanged". Moreover, the continuing human rights violations against the Georgian population, including the recent cases of killings, strengthened the view that more efforts were needed to achieve a genuine breakthrough.
The political aspects of the normalization continued to determine the chances for progress in all other areas, he said. The picture presented in the last Secretary-General's report was rather bleak. He called on all parties concerned and especially the Abkhaz side to do all they could in order to achieve a comprehensive political solution. Last year's presidential and parliamentary elections in Georgia, while greatly contributing to the process of democratic evolution in that country, created a more propitious climate for addressing the outstanding issues in the conflict, particularly President Shevardnadze's comments on the constitutional arrangements in Georgia made in his inaugural address.
The humanitarian situation in the conflict area was of particular concern, he continued. He regretted the lack of positive changes in that regard and called upon all the parties concerned to alleviate the situation by committing themselves to full and unequivocal fulfilment of their obligations. He appealed in particular to the Abkhaz side, which under the draft, was expected to better its record with regard to the return of refugees and displaced persons.
The UNOMIG continued to be an indispensable element of the situation in Abkhazia, he said, adding that that was the reason he supported the extension of the mandate, although the situation that I have referred to earlier in my statement warrants a cautious approach in the face of further delays in the peace process", he concluded.
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YURIY V. FEDOTOV (Russian Federation) expressed condolences regarding the recent incident in Shesheleti village of the Gali region and condemned the action. The Russian Federation had helped to draft the text before the Council. It believed that the main responsibility for a solution to the conflict lay with the parties themselves. The possibilities for reaching a peaceful political solution had not yet been exhausted. Russia would pursue efforts in that direction. It supported close contact with the Secretary-General's Special Representative and others to pursue the negotiating process. Russia would ask others to try the route of peaceful negotiations.
The Russian Federation was concerned about ensuring the mass and safe return of refugees to their homes, which in turn would help the peace process along, he said. The draft resolution would demand that the Abkhaz side help accelerate the return of refugees. He expressed hope that the Council's demand would meet with a positive response from the Abkhaz side. Meeting the demands of the Council would be key to helping facilitate a solution to the crisis.
ADELINO MANO QUETA (Guinea-Bissau) expressed sadness that the peace process had been deadlocked and regret at the worsening of the humanitarian and refugee situations in the region. The barbaric act in the Gali region also made the situation very serious. He stressed the importance of the territorial integrity of Georgia and supported the extension of the UNOMIG mandate because of the important role the Mission would continue to play. Guinea-Bissau would vote for the draft in the hope that it would give a new impetus to the search for peaceful solutions to the conflict.
QIN HUASUN (China) noted that the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy had made tremendous efforts in search of a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Georgia. The counties concerned in the region, particularly the Russian Federation had also conducted positive mediation. He welcomed the concerted efforts made by the international community in advancing the peace process in Georgia.
The situation in the Abkhaz region of Georgia had been tense and the political settlement process long locked in a stalemate despite vigorous mediation by all parties since the outbreak of the dispute, he said. The major problems now were continued serious differences between the two parties over the future political status of Abkhazia, and further obstruction of the return of refugees to the Abkhaz region. China was deeply concerned about those disturbing development.
He stressed that the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia should be respected by the international community in settling the conflict there. At the same time, the basic rights of various ethnic groups in the Abkhaz region should be guaranteed. The final settlement of the question of Georgia would ultimately depend on the Georgian people of all ethnic groups. In that connection, the international community could only play a supplementary and promotive role based on the political will of the two parties. He urged the two parties to take into account the fundamental interests of the Georgian people of
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all ethnic groups and engage in peace talks in an earnest and constructive manner so as to find a proper solution.
Since its deployment, the UNOMIG had maintained good cooperation with the two parties and the CIS peace-keeping force, and had carried out the mandate entrusted to it by the Council fairly well, he said, expressing satisfaction. Therefore, he supported the Secretary-General's recommendation to extend the mandate of UNOMIG and hoped that it would further promote stability in Georgia and facilitate the process of a comprehensive political settlement. China would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
MAKARIM WIBISONO (Indonesia) expressed serious concern about the current situation in Georgia described in the Secretary-General's report. The protracted yet deadlocked peace process could be construed only in the gravest of terms. He supported the efforts of Ambassador Edouard Brunner and his Deputy, Liviu Bota, along with those of the Russian Federation who had made a valuable contribution to the peace process. With the prospects of any major breakthrough remaining bleak at the present time, he appealed to the parties to refrain from any actions that might exacerbate the already dangerous and volatile situation, seen in the deplorable humanitarian conditions. Lootings, beatings, and torture had become an intolerable aspect of everyday life for too many people. He noted that during the current period of the UNOMIG's mandate, no progress had been made concerning the serous issue of displaced persons.
He called on the parties to agree to a framework that reflected the main tenets of the draft resolution for achieving a comprehensive political settlement to the crisis. The core elements of such a framework should be premised on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and on the rights of its multi-ethnic people.
He expressed profound dissatisfaction with the continued intransigent position taken by the Abkhaz authorities in facilitating an atmosphere that encouraged the safe repatriation of displaced persons and refugees. "In this connection, my delegation would like to recall the eighth preambular paragraph of the 1994 Budapest summit declaration of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe that in no uncertain terms condemns the use of 'ethnic violence'." He requested the Abkhaz authorities to accept the timetable proposed by the UNHCR that would significantly accelerate the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons. He called on the Abkhaz authorities to take appropriate steps to fully cooperate with all institutions assisting in resolving that crisis including the good offices of the Secretary-General and the Russian Federation in order to promote the expeditious and safe return of refugees and displaced persons.
It was imperative that the parties lived up to their commitments in providing the United Nations and CIS personnel with security and freedom of access in order for them to continue to discharge their urgent and important tasks with minimal disruption. Indonesia would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
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LEGWAILA J.M.J. LEGWAILA (Botswana) said that the efforts to solve the problems in Georgia had been thwarted by the self-declared government of Abkhazia, which continued to reject proposals for a unitary State. He expressed wonder as to whether the Council's resolutions and statements meant anything to the parties to the conflict in Abkhazia, particularly Mr. Adzinba and his forces. The callousness with which the Abkhaz side had treated the plight of the 250,000 refugees that it had expelled from their homes was disheartening.
He said that a comprehensive political solution was still possible. Its essential elements would include the safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons, the preservation of the territorial integrity of Georgia and a constitutional framework conferring a special status on Abkhazia. Those had been accepted by the Georgian Government, and the Abkhaz side should act likewise.
The Abkhaz authorities had responsibility for the safety of all peoples in their region irrespective of their ethnic origin, he said. It was for that reason that Botswana supported the language in operative paragraph 7 of the draft text which called upon the Abkhaz leadership to protect all people in the areas they controlled. The draft also requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council in three months on the efforts of his Special Envoy and the Russian facilitator to find a solution to the Abkhaz problem. He expressed hope that substantial progress would be made on the political and refugee problems to allow peace and security to return to Georgia.
GERARDO MARTINEZ BLANCO (Honduras) said that if political dialogue was not restored, the situation would continue to deteriorate. The parties should show that they were prepared to reach agreement on the three points of difference: the return of refugees, a special status for Abkhazia and the integrity of Georgia. Such conditions would constitute appropriate bases for solving the crisis. The parties should cooperate with UNOMIG, the UNHCR and other bodies to help the return of refugees and displaced persons and protect those that had returned.
He said that the efforts of the Russian facilitator, the OSCE and the Secretary-General's representative should continue to be pursued; they warranted support as they could help bring about a political solution to the crisis. The UNOMIG continued to perform crucial duties and as long as there was no evidence of concrete steps towards solving the crisis, its presence in the region was necessary. The parties should try to reach a peaceful and political solution to the crisis.
NABIL ELARABY (Egypt) said he would vote in favour of the draft resolution, first, because it was always important that the Council took action in favour of international peace and security. Also, it was important that the Council condemn the human rights violations taking place in the region, particularly by the Abkhaz side. It was important to respect the UNHCR schedule for the return of refugees and displaced persons.
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Today's draft was more strict than the previous one on the matter and that was appropriate, he said.
The draft resolution was adopted unanimously as resolution 1036 (1996).
KARL F. INDERFURTH (United States) expressed firm support for the extension of the mandate of the UNOMIG, which had served as a positive element in the international community's efforts to resolve the conflict in Georgia.
He deeply regretted the lack of progress between the parties in achieving a political solution to the conflict in Georgia. The resolution adopted today called upon the parties, in particular the Abkhaz side, to achieve substantive progress without further delay towards a comprehensive political settlement. The Abkhaz side should take note that the Council had not wavered in its absolute support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. And yet, broad autonomy was available to the Abkhaz people -- with their own parliament, constitution, courts and other state symbols -- if they would negotiate within the parameters suggested by Special Envoy Brunner and the Russian Federation.
The Abkhaz-Georgian conflict had created a quarter of a million refugees and displaced persons, he said. Only an insignificant trickle had returned to their homes. The resolution demanded that the Abkhaz side accelerate significantly the voluntary return of refugees. Moreover, the Council called upon the Abkhaz side, as a first step, to promote the return of refugees and displaced persons to the Gali region, a traditional Georgian area.
He expressed great concern over the human rights situation in Gali and throughout Abkhazia, and supported the efforts of Deputy Special Envoy Bota, working in conjunction with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jose Ayala Lasso, and the OSCE to establish a programme for the protection and promotion of human rights there. The pervasive lawlessness and incidents of ethnically based abuse throughout the security zone had had a destabilizing effect. The sort of killings described in the letter from the Ambassador of Georgia, although still under investigation, contributed to that instability and thus discouraged the return of refugees and displaced persons.
He called on all parties in Georgia to cooperate with the UNOMIG and to allow its personnel to carry out their mission without interference or opposition. The UNOMIG would maximize its contribution to bringing peace and stability in Georgia only if it would operate freely and with the cooperation of all parties to the cease-fire it was charged with monitoring.
The resolution contained a provision allowing the Council to review the UNOMIG's mandate if there were changes in the recently expired mandate of the CIS peace-keeping force operating in Georgia, he said. He expected that the mandate of the CIS peace-keeping force would be renewed and that UNOMIG would consequently be able to maintain its operations as contemplated in the resolution. He commended the excellent cooperation between UNOMIG and the CIS
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peace-keeping force and hoped that such cooperation would continue as long as both were operating in Georgia.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that the unanimous support for the resolution should serve as a serious message to the parties to the dispute. The search for a solution in the area should give Abkhazia an appropriate status and guarantee the rights of its people. The text adopted by the Council had been addressed in particular to the Abkhaz side which must shoulder its responsibilities and not gamble that external factors would make changes in its favour. The Council had also shown its concern regarding the condition of refugees and regarding the return of violence in the region. The violence in the region had been condemned in strong terms and the Council had reaffirmed the need for the Abkhaz side to exercise control over its forces. The need for the safe return of refugees had also been stressed by the Council.
He said that the extension of the UNOMIG mandate was important and praised the dedication of the United Nations personnel to their work.
JUAN SOMAVIA (Chile) supported the resolution just adopted. It was disturbing that despite efforts, the peace process remained deadlocked and violations of human rights continued.
Referring to the humanitarian situation, he noted that it constituted a source of instability in the country. He drew attention to the work done by the United Nations and the OSCE in containing the conflict, which, if it had spread, could have had disastrous consequences to the region.
Despite the deadlock there was some positive elements that gave cause for hope, including the willingness of Georgia's President to engage in bilateral talks, he concluded.
Speaking as his country's representative, Sir JOHN WESTON (United Kingdom), said that when the Council had decided in July 1994 to increase the number of United Nations observers on the ground in Abkhazia on the basis of a significantly expanded mandate, it had made clear the crucial importance of achieving progress towards a comprehensive political settlement which would respect fully the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. On each and every occasion since then when the situation in Abkhazia had been discussed the Council had reaffirmed the fundamental importance of those two principles. The international community had offered, and continued to offer, help, encouragement, assistance and advice to that end. It was therefore deeply frustrating that 18 months later there had been so little progress towards that goal of a comprehensive political settlement.
It was difficult to see how political negotiations could flourish in the face of the continued unwillingness of the Abkhaz leadership to face up to reality, he said, adding that that reality was the Council's unequivocal commitment to Georgian territorial integrity. The Council was deeply concerned
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by the Abkhaz leadership's continued obstruction of the orderly and voluntary return of refugees, and its failure to ensure the safety of those who had returned to Abkhazia. The Abkhaz leadership's actions only served to undermine further the situation of the very people whose interests they claimed to represent. He appealed to the parties, particularly the Abkhaz leadership, not to waste the opportunity represented by the Cease-fire Agreement of May 1994 and to work urgently and sincerely towards a comprehensive political settlement. The Abkhaz leadership should not expect that opportunity to exist forever.
The opportunity for a political settlement existed due to the valuable work of UNOMIG and of the CIS peace-keeping force in helping to stabilize the situation on the ground, he said. Without their efforts, the prospects of securing a comprehensive settlement would be significantly diminished. That was why the United Kingdom supported the continuation of the presence of United Nations observers in Abkhazia, subject to the continuation of the CIS peace- keeping force. He hoped that the CIS Summit on 19 January would confirm the extension of the presence of CIS peace-keepers. It was most welcome that cooperation between UNOMIG and the CIS peace-keeping force continued to be satisfactory.
The United Kingdom was one of the main contributors of personnel to UNOMIG, he said, thanking the Chief Military Observer, Major-General Kallstrom, and the members of UNOMIG for their work. The recent incidents detailed in the Secretary-General's report were a reminder of the ever-present threat to those carrying out that work. It was vital that the parties recognized their responsibilities to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of UNOMIG and CIS personnel. However, the parties, in particular the Abkhaz leadership, should not forget that UNOMIG's presence was a means to an end, and not an end in itself. That was why it was essential that there must be significant progress, both in the political negotiations and also on the return of refugees, in the coming months if the international community's efforts were not to be wasted.
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