The Security Council this afternoon strongly condemned the recent attacks on and kidnapping of international personnel of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Tajikistan, and demanded the immediate release of all those taken hostage. It expressed satisfaction at the cooperation between UNMOT, the Russian Federation and the parties to resolve the crisis.
Through a statement read out by its President, Njiguna M. Mahugu (Kenya), the Council stressed the inadmissibility of kidnapping and any other mistreatment of United Nations personnel, and supported the efforts of the Secretary-General to ensure that UNMOT's essential security requirements are met. It called on the parties to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of personnel of the United Nations, the collective peace-keeping forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and other international personnel.
The Council expressed deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Tajikistan and called for continuing emergency relief, including assistance for the return of refugees and support for the country's rehabilitation. It also considered it necessary for the United Nations to continue vigorous support for the political process in Tajikistan and asked the Secretary-General to submit his recommendations on the United Nations presence, in the light of progress in implementing the inter-Tajik agreements, for which the parties have requested United Nations assistance.
Addressing the political process in the country, the Council welcomed the signing on 23 December 1996 of an agreement between the parties and noted the progress made in the inter-Tajik talks in Tehran, in particular the signing of the Protocol on Refugees. Believing that the agreements represented a qualitative change for the better in efforts to achieve national reconciliation in Tajikistan, the Council urged the parties to implement them consistently. It also urged them to make further substantive progress at the next round of inter-Tajik talks.
The Council noted with satisfaction that the parties had generally observed their agreed cease-fire since December 1996, and called on them to maintain it scrupulously for the entire duration of the talks. It also called on them to cooperate fully with the Special Representative of the Secretary- General during those negotiations, commending his efforts, as well as those of the Mission.
The meeting, which was called to order at 4:19 p.m., was adjourned at 4:29 p.m.
The full text of the statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/1997/6, reads as follows:
"The Security Council has considered the progress report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Tajikistan of 21 January 1997 (S/1997/56), submitted pursuant to paragraph 6 of Security Council resolution 1089 (1996) of 13 December 1996.
"The Security Council welcomes the signing in Moscow on 23 December 1996 by the President of Tajikistan and the leader of the United Tajik Opposition of the Agreement (S/1996/1070, annex I), including the Protocol on the Commission on National Reconciliation (S/1996/1070, annex II), and notes the progress made in the inter-Tajik talks in Tehran, in particular the signing of the Protocol on Refugees (S/1997/56, annex III). It believes that these agreements, provided they are carried out as written, represent a qualitative change for the better and give a new impetus to efforts aimed at achieving national reconciliation. The Council urges the parties to honour and implement consistently and in good faith the agreements already reached, in particular in the course of negotiating future agreements. It also urges them to make further substantive progress at the next rounds of the inter-Tajik talks.
"The Security Council notes with satisfaction that the cease-fire has been generally observed by the parties since December 1996 and calls on them to maintain it scrupulously for the whole duration of the inter-Tajik talks in accordance with their obligations and commitments.
"The Security Council commends the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and calls upon the parties to cooperate fully with him in continuing the inter-Tajik talks. The Security Council also commends the efforts of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) in fulfilling its mandate.
"The Security Council calls upon the parties to ensure the safety and the freedom of movement of the personnel of the United Nations, the collective peace-keeping forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and other international personnel in Tajikistan.
Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6324 3739th Meeting (PM) 7 February 1997
"The Security Council strongly condemns the attacks on and kidnapping of international personnel, in particular UNMOT, UNHCR and ICRC, and others and demands the immediate release of all those taken hostage. It stresses the inadmissibility of kidnapping and any other mistreatment of United Nations personnel and supports the efforts of the Secretary-General to ensure that the essential security requirements of UNMOT are met.
"In this context, the Security Council expresses satisfaction at the efforts by and cooperation between UNMOT, the Russian Federation and the parties to resolve the hostage crisis.
"The Security Council considers it necessary for the United Nations to continue vigorous support for the political process in Tajikistan. It takes note of the request from the parties to UNMOT to extend the necessary assistance in the implementation of the Moscow Agreement and to cooperate closely with the Commission on National Reconciliation in its activities. The Council accepts the Secretary-General's recommendation not to change the nature and size of the United Nations presence in Tajikistan at this stage. It requests the Secretary-General to keep the situation under review and to submit in due course his recommendations with regard to the United Nations presence in Tajikistan in the light of the progress in implementation of the inter-Tajik agreements and bearing in mind the request for assistance by the parties contained in the Moscow agreement and the tasks and functions that would be required to provide such assistance.
"The Security Council expresses deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Tajikistan and calls for continuing emergency relief, including assistance for the return of refugees, in the context of the implementation of the Protocol on Refugees, and support to Tajikistan for rehabilitation, aimed at mitigation of the consequences of the war and reconstruction of its economy."
Report of Secretary-General
In considering the situation in Tajikistan, the Council had before it a 21 January report of the Secretary-General (document S/1997/56) on progress over the prior month. It covers compliance by the parties with the provisions of their cease-fire agreement, as well as the results of meetings between Tajik President Emomali S. Rakhmonov and S. Abdullo Nuri, leader of the Untied Tajik Opposition (UTO).
According to the report, President Rakhmonov and Mr. Nuri met on 10 and 11 December, initialling an agreement on restoration of the cease-fire. Their agreement provided for cessation of armed hostilities on 12 December, disengagement of forces in the Tavildara sector, removal of all military posts from the Dushanbe-Jirgatal road, and the release by the UTO of certain government servicemen recently taken prisoner.
Security Council - 4 - Press Release SC/6324 3739th Meeting (PM) 7 February 1997
The two leaders also appealed for an extension of the mandate of UNMOT. The UNMOT was asked to deploy military observers on both sides of the separation area in the Tavildara sector, to assist in the release of prisoners of war, and to facilitate the role of the Joint Commission -- the body entrusted with implementing the agreement.
During a formal summit meeting in Moscow, which began on 21 December, the two men signed their earlier agreement, as well as a protocol defining the functions and powers of the Commission on National Reconciliation, the report states. They further agreed that the next round of inter-Tajik talks would begin in Tehran on 5 January. During those talks, which ran from 6 to 19 January, the parties achieved progress on a number of issues. However, the question of allocation of seats on the Commission and appropriate security guarantees for the UTO members remained unresolved.
In addition, the parties signed a protocol on refugees and discussed a protocol on political problems, initialling agreement on three out of four substantive issues, the report continues. Those were mutual forgiveness and amnesty; participation by the UTO in the central electoral commission; and integration of UTO representatives to the Government during the transitional period. They failed to agree on modalities of reforming military and political movements into political parties, and on lifting a ban on their activities. The parties agreed to meet again on 26 February.
"The agreement reached in Moscow has broken the long impasse that had existed between the parties on the main political issues", the Secretary- General states. "It represents a qualitative change for the better, provided it is carried out as written." He adds: "However, the agreements reached between the two sides have given new impetus to efforts aimed at achieving reconciliation, efforts that require the international community's vigorous support."
The recent agreements also entail new tasks for UNMOT, the practical implications of which are now being explored, the Secretary-General states. At present, however, he is recommending no changes in the nature and size of the United Nations presence in Tajikistan, but will keep the situation under review and revert to the Council in due course.
In reviewing the situation on the ground, the Secretary-General says that fighting in the Tavildara sector and sections of the Karategin Valley came to a halt immediately following the cease-fire agreement. Although some fighting continued in Garm, where opposition forces continued attacking government troops, those attacks ceased on 15 December with the arrival of a delegation from UTO headquarters. Since then, no major fighting has been reported between government and opposition forces in the country.
Security Council - 5 - Press Release SC/6324 3739th Meeting (PM) 7 February 1997
Nevertheless, the situation remained tense, as evidenced by a number of serious incidents described in the report. Also, the activity of armed groups not under the control of either side continued to pose a serious obstacle. The Mission continued to operate with a limited deployment, maintaining a team in Garm to support contacts between the Government and UTO, as well as offices in Khorog and in Taloqan, northern Afghanistan. It also carried out patrols from Dushanbe, including one to Tursunzade in connection with recent disturbances there.
* *** *