Security Council SC/6366
3774th Meeting (PM) 8 May 1997
SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS ON PARTIES TO INTENSIFY SEARCH FOR
PEACEFUL SOLUTION TO CONFLICT IN ABKHAZIA, GEORGIA
Presidential Statement Expresses Full Support for Secretary-General's
Proposals to Strengthen United Nations Involvement in Peacemaking Process
The Security Council this afternoon called upon the parties to the conflict in Georgia, particularly the Abkhaz side, to intensify the search for a peaceful solution by further expanding their contacts, and requested the Secretary-General to make available to them all appropriate support, if requested.
In a statement read out by its President, Park Soo Gil (Republic of Korea), the Council expressed full support for the Secretary-General's intention to convene a meeting with the parties to map out the areas where concrete political progress could be made. It welcomed his intention to appoint a resident Special Representative, as a successor to his current Special Envoy for Georgia, and to strengthen the political element of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG). The Secretary-General was also encouraged to explore the idea of revitalizing the Coordinating Commission, set up in May 1994, and establishing expert groups on questions of mutual interest.
The Council stressed the primary responsibility of the parties for reinvigorating the peace process and reaffirmed its full support for a more active role for the United Nations, with the assistance of the Russian Federation as facilitator, to achieve a comprehensive political settlement.
The Council said it remained deeply concerned at the continued deterioration of the security conditions in the Gali region, including acts of violence by armed groups, indiscriminate laying of mines and armed robbery, and the resulting deterioration of the safety and security of the local populations, of the refugees and displaced persons returning to the region, and of the personnel of UNOMIG and the Collective Peace-keeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peace-keeping force. It condemned the acts of violence which have led to the loss of life of members of the CIS peace-keeping force.
The meeting, which began at 12:48 p.m., was adjourned at 12:59 p.m.
The full text of the statement, which will be issued as document S/PRST/1997/25, reads as follows:
"The Security Council has considered the report of the Secretary-General concerning the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, of 25 April 1997 (S/1997/340). It has also taken note of the letter of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Secretary-General of 1 April 1997 (S/1997/268) and of the letter of the Permanent Representative of Georgia to the President of the Security Council of 28 April 1997 (S/1997/339).
"The Security Council reiterates its full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.
"The Security Council reaffirms its full support for a more active role for the United Nations, with the assistance of the Russian Federation as facilitator, aimed at achieving a comprehensive political settlement.
"The Security Council acknowledges the efforts in support of the peace process of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy, with the assistance of the Russian Federation as facilitator, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General on Georgia as mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General of 25 April 1997. In this context, the Security Council fully supports the proposals made by the Secretary-General in his report of 25 April 1997 to strengthen the involvement of the United Nations in the peace-making process. It fully supports, in particular, the intention of the Secretary-General to convene a meeting with both sides to map out the areas where concrete political progress can be made. The Council encourages the Secretary-General to explore the idea of revitalizing the Coordinating Commission and establishing expert groups on questions of mutual interest. The Security Council welcomes the intention of the Secretary-General to appoint a resident Special Representative, as a successor to his current Special Envoy for Georgia, and to strengthen the political element of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG).
"The Security Council further encourages the Secretary-General to take such steps as are necessary, in cooperation with the parties, in order to ensure a prompt and safe return of the refugees and displaced persons to their homes, with the assistance of all relevant international organizations. The Council takes note of the initiation of activities by the United Nations Human Rights Office in Abkhazia, Georgia.
"The Security Council continues to stress that the primary responsibility for reinvigorating the peace process rests upon the parties themselves. It welcomes the continuation of direct dialogue between the parties. The Council calls upon them, in particular the Abkhaz side, to intensify the search for a peaceful solution by further expanding their contacts, and requests the Secretary-General to make available all appropriate support if so requested by the parties. The Council notes the appeal of the Secretary-General to both parties to pursue the current discussions on the implementation of the decisions of 28 March 1997 adopted by the Council of Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (S/1997/268, annexes I and II).
"The Security Council remains deeply concerned at the continued deterioration of the security conditions in the Gali region, including acts of violence by armed groups, indiscriminate laying of mines and armed robbery, and the resulting deterioration of the safety and security of the local populations, of the refugees and displaced persons returning to the region, and of the personnel of UNOMIG and the Collective Peace-keeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS peace-keeping force). The Council condemns the acts of violence which have led to the loss of life of members of the CIS peace-keeping force. It welcomes the intention of the Secretary-General to continue to make every effort to build upon the positive results recently achieved in order to improve the safety of the military observers and the operational effectiveness of UNOMIG. The Security Council reminds the parties of their obligation to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of UNOMIG and the CIS peace-keeping force, and, in particular, to prevent the laying of mines.
"The Security Council welcomes the good cooperation between UNOMIG and the CIS peace-keeping force and their efforts to promote stabilization of the situation in the zone of conflict.
"The Security Council also welcomes the continued efforts by the United Nations agencies and humanitarian organizations to address the urgent needs of those suffering most from the consequences of the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia, in particular internally displaced persons, and encourages further contributions to that end. It also 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 (S/1994/583, annex I) and/or for humanitarian aspects including demining, as specified by donors.
"The Security Council request the Secretary-General to continue to keep it closely informed of the situation."
Documents before Council
For its consideration of the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, and on UNOMIG, the Council had before a mid-April report of the Secretary-General (document S/1997/340). In it, he states his plans to appoint a resident Special Representative, who will be based in Tbilisi and Sukhumi, as a successor to his current Special Envoy for Georgia, Edouard Brunner. The action is a response to increased demands arising from strengthened United Nations involvement in a comprehensive settlement of the Georgian/Abkhaz conflict, with the help of the Russian Federation as facilitator.
The Secretary-General also says he intends to convene a meeting with the two sides to map out areas in which they could make concrete political progress on contentious issues. Furthermore, he intends to strengthen the political element of UNOMIG by deploying, throughout the mission area, a few additional political, civil and legal officers. The Mission currently has 121 military observers in the area. Meanwhile, the Secretary-General has asked his Deputy Special Envoy, Liviu Bota, to hold further talks with Russian authorities on the proposal to revitalize the Coordinating Commission set up in May 1994, which could serve as an umbrella for expert groups on energy, transportation and communications.
Commenting on security conditions, the Secretary-General says the situation in the UNOMIG area continues to be dangerous for observers. Similarly, mine-laying in the Gali sector has not abated, with no signs of improvement in the near future. He intends to deploy mine-detection equipment and personnel to build upon the positive results achieved with the arrival of mine-protected vehicles, in order to improve the safety of UNOMIG's military observers and its operational effectiveness.
The report also addresses political, humanitarian and human rights aspects of the United Nations mission in Georgia. The Secretary-General stresses that the situation in the Gali restricted weapons zone and, in particular, the security zone, is tense. Acts of violence, which increased in the first weeks of April, have included direct targeting, by unknown persons, of members of the Collective Peace-keeping Forces of the CIS, killing three of them on 22 February. Ten more were injured in four separate incidents.
Tension remains in the security and restricted weapons zones of the Gali sector, with a rise in the crime rate and the commission of murder, attacks, looting and armed robbery, according to the Secretary-General. Personnel and property of UNOMIG were robbed seven times in the reporting period. On the whole, mines constitute the most serious problem in the Gali security and restricted weapons zones, forcing UNOMIG military observers to limit their movement. The death of three CIS peace-keepers on 22 February has led to the suspension of some patrolling in February and March, leaving the region open to the activities of armed groups and common criminals. As a result, the threat of violence in the Gali sector remains high, with 10 mine explosions reported.
On the human rights situation, the Secretary-General says that the recently established United Nations office for protecting and promoting human rights in Abkhazia has begun working. It has produced positive results such as the creation of a grass-roots organization for human rights and democracy in Abkhazia and the establishment by the Abkhaz leader, Vladislav Ardzinba, of a human rights commission to cooperate with the United Nations office. The office has started a systematic monitoring of human rights violations, focusing on Abkhaz authorities' compliance with international human rights standards. It has also initiated the translation into the Abkhaz language of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Also before the Council are two letters, from the Permanent Representatives of the Russian Federation and Georgia.
In his letter to the Secretary-General, dated 1 April (document S/1997/268), the Russian Federation's Permanent Representative transmits, among others, the decision adopted in Moscow on 28 March by the CIS Council of Heads of State to extend the mandate of the Collective Peace-keeping Forces in the conflict zone in Abkhazia to 31 July or until one of the parties to the conflict asks for its termination. Also annexed to the letter is a statement on the progress towards a settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia, in which the Heads of State, among other things, condemned the position of the Abkhaz side for hindering the conclusion of agreements on a political settlement of the conflict and the safe return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes.
In his communication with the Security Council President, dated 28 April (document S/1997/339), Georgia's Permanent Representative transmits the text of a letter from his country's President, Eduard Shevardnadze. In his letter, Mr. Shevardnadze states that the United Nations role in solving the conflict should be invigorated and calls on it to consider sending experts to examine charges of ethnic cleansing and grave atrocities committed by separatists against the Georgian population in Abkhazia. Punishment of the crimes' perpetrators could be considered.
The separatist leaders, he adds, terrorize repatriated refugees and internally displaced persons and plant land-mines in the Gali and Ochamchira regions. Since such actions hinder the CIS peace-keepers and UNOMIG from carrying out their mandates, an organized return of refugees in accordance with an agreed timetable -- a main component for settling the conflict -- is not feasible. With appeals to the separatist regime unsuccessful, "it is impossible to rely indefinitely on methods of persuasion", he adds. "It is time to consider the combination of persuasion and coercion", he states.
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