31/07/2001
Press Release
SC/7112



Security Council

4353rd Meeting (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UNOMIG MANDATE UNTIL 31 JANUARY 2002


Welcoming the important contributions of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG)and the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS peacekeeping force) to the stabilization of the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, the Security Council this morning extended UNOMIG's mandate until 31 January 2002.  The decision is subject to the review of that mandate, and the Council expressed its intention to conduct a thorough review of the operation at the end of the year, in the light of steps taken by the parties to achieve a comprehensive settlement.


The Council took that action by unanimously adopting resolution 1364 (2001), by whose terms it also regretted the deterioration of the situation in the zone of conflict in Abkhazia due to the ongoing violence, hostage-taking incidents, the rise in criminality, and the activities of illegal armed groups, which constitute a constant threat to the peace process. 


Strongly supporting the sustained efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, with the assistance of the Russian Federation in its capacity as facilitator, the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to achieve a comprehensive political settlement (which must include a settlement of the political status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia), the Council recalled the intention of the Special Representative to submit the draft paper on the distribution of constitutional competencies between Tbilisi and Sukhumi as a basis for meaningful negotiations, and not as an attempt to impose any specific solution on the parties.


The Council stressed the need to accelerate work on several draft texts concerning such issues as the return of refugees to the Gali region; measures for economic rehabilitation; and guarantees for the prevention of hostilities.  The parties, in particular the Abkhaz side, were called upon to move beyond the current impasse, engage in negotiations on the core political questions and all outstanding issues in the peace process, and resume their work in the Coordinating Council and its relevant mechanisms as soon as possible.  The Council also welcomed the documents signed in Yalta last March on confidence-building measures and urged both parties to implement the agreed proposals. 


The Council urged the parties to work together through more effective use of existing arrangements within the Coordinating Council mechanisms, in order to clarify recent incidents of violence and bring about the release of hostages and bring the perpetrators to justice.  It also reaffirmed the unacceptability of the demographic changes resulting from the conflict, and stressed the right of all

refugees and internally displaced persons to return to their homes in secure and dignified conditions.  As a first step, the parties were urged to address the undefined and insecure status of spontaneous returnees in the Gali district.  Recalling with satisfaction the joint assessment mission to that area, carried out under the aegis of the United Nations, the Council looked forward to a discussion by the parties of practical steps to implement the Mission's recommendations. 


Deploring all violations of the Moscow Agreement of 14 May 1994 on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces, the Council noted with concern the military exercises carried out by both parties in June and July, and expressed its concern at the disturbing tendency by the parties to restrict the freedom of movement of UNOMIG.  In this connection, the parties were called upon to fully comply with the Moscow Agreement; ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations and other international personnel; and bring to justice the perpetrators of all hostage-taking incidents, particularly the abduction of two UNOMIG military observers on 10 December 2000.


Also by the terms of the resolution, the Council recalled that the Georgian and the Abkhaz sides bore the primary responsibility for the security of UNOMIG, the CIS peacekeeping force and other international personnel and for full compliance with the security arrangements to preclude any further aggravation of the situation.  The Georgian side, in particular, was reminded to uphold its commitment to put a stop to the activities of illegal armed groups crossing into Abkhazia, Georgia.


The meeting began at 11:02 a.m. and was adjourned at 11:05 a.m.


Immediately following this meeting, the Council turned to its consideration of the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).


Resolution


The full text of resolution 1364 (2001) reads as follows:


The Security Council,


Recalling all its relevant resolutions, in particular resolution 1339 (2001) of 31 January 2001 and the statements of its President of 21 March 2001 (S/PRST/2001/9) and 24 April 2001 (S/PRST/2001/12),


Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 19 July 2001 (S/2001/713),


Recalling the conclusions of the Lisbon (S/1997/57, annex) and Istanbul summits of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) regarding the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia,


Stressing that the continued lack of progress on key issues of a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia, is unacceptable,


Deeply concerned by the interruption of negotiating activities following the killings and hostage-taking incidents in April and May in the district of Gali, on 8 and 9 July in the Gulripshi area and again on 22 July 2001 in Primorsk,

Expressing its regrets at the cancellation of the thirteenth session of the Coordinating Council of the Georgian and Abkhaz sides, initially scheduled for

17 July 2001, due to the withdrawal of the Abkhaz side following those incidents,


Recalling the relevant principles contained in the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel adopted on 9 December 1994,


Welcoming the important contributions that the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS peacekeeping force) continue to make in stabilizing the situation in the zone of conflict, noting that the working relationship between UNOMIG and the CIS peacekeeping force has remained very close, and stressing the importance of close cooperation between them in the performance of their respective mandates,


Noting the invitation of the Georgian Government for the Security Council to dispatch a mission to the region,


“1.   Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General of 19 July 2001;


“2.   Regrets the deterioration of the situation in the zone of conflict due to the ongoing violence, hostage-taking incidents, the rise in criminality and the activities of illegal armed groups in the conflict zone, which constitutes a constant threat to the peace process;


“3.   Strongly supports the sustained efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, with the assistance of the Russian Federation, in its capacity as facilitator as well as of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General and of the OSCE, to promote the stabilization of the situation and the achievement of a comprehensive political settlement, which must include a settlement of the political status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia;


“4.   Recalls the intention of the Special Representative to submit the draft paper on the question of the distribution of constitutional competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi as a basis for meaningful negotiations, and not as an attempt to impose or dictate any specific solution to the parties;


“5.   Stresses the importance of early submission to the parties of the paper as a starting point and significant catalyst for negotiations on a comprehensive political settlement, and deeply regrets that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General has not been in a position to do so;


“6.   Stresses the need to accelerate work on the draft protocol on the return of the refugees to the Gali region and measures for economic rehabilitation, as well as on the draft agreement on peace and guarantees for the prevention and for the non-resumption of hostilities;


“7.   Calls upon the parties, in particular the Abkhaz side, to undertake immediate efforts to move beyond the impasse and to engage into negotiations on the core political questions of the conflict and all other outstanding issues in the United Nations-led peace process;


“8.   Welcomes the documents signed at the Yalta meeting on confidence-building measures in March 2001 (S/2001/242), and urges the Georgian and Abkhaz sides to implement the proposals agreed in those documents in a purposeful and cooperative manner;


“9.   Calls upon the parties to resume their work in the Coordinating Council and its relevant mechanisms as soon as possible;


“10.  Urges the parties to work together, through more effective use of existing arrangements within the Coordinating Council mechanisms, in order to clarify the incidents of 8, 9 and 22 July 2001, bring about the release of the hostages still being held and bring the perpetrators to justice;


“11.  Reaffirms the unacceptability of the demographic changes resulting from the conflict, and reaffirms also the inalienable right of all refugees and internally displaced persons affected by the conflict to return to their homes in secure and dignified conditions, in accordance with international law and as set out in the Quadripartite Agreement of 4 April 1994 (S/1994/397,      annex II);


“12.  Further urges the parties, in this context, to address urgently and in a concerted manner, as a first step, the undefined and insecure status of spontaneous returnees to the Gali district, which remains an issue of serious concern;


“13.  Welcomes measures undertaken by the Government of Georgia, UNDP, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs and the World Bank, to improve the situation of refugees and IDPs to develop their skills and to increase their self-reliance with full respect for their inalienable right to return to their homes in secure and dignified conditions;


“14.  Recalls with satisfaction the joint assessment mission to the Gali district, carried out under the aegis of the United Nations, and looks forward to a discussion by the parties of practical steps to implement the mission’s recommendations;


“15.  Deplores all violations of the Moscow Agreement of 14 May 1994 on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces (S/1994/583, annex I) and notes with particular concern the military exercises conducted by both parties in June and July in violation of the Moscow Agreement;


“16.  Expresses its concern at the disturbing tendency by the parties to restrict the freedom of movement of UNOMIG, thereby hindering the ability of the Mission to fulfil its mandate, and urges both sides to return immediately to full compliance with the Moscow Agreement, which remains a cornerstone of the United Nations peace effort, and calls upon the parties to ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations and other international personnel;


“17.  Recalls that the Georgian and the Abkhaz sides bear the primary responsibility for the security of UNOMIG, the CIS peacekeeping force and other international personnel and for full compliance with all security arrangements agreed between them to preclude any further aggravation of the situation, and urges both parties to bring to justice the perpetrators of all hostage-taking incidents, particularly the abduction of two UNOMIG military observers in the Kodori Valley on 10 December 2000;


“18.  Reminds the Georgian side in particular to uphold its commitment to put a stop to the activities of illegal armed groups crossing into Abkhazia, Georgia, from the Georgian-controlled side of the ceasefire line;


“19.  Welcomes UNOMIG keeping its security arrangements under constant review in order to ensure the highest possible level of security for its staff;


“20.  Decides to extend the mandate of UNOMIG for a new period terminating on 31 January 2002, 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 or in the presence of the CIS peacekeeping force, and expresses its intention to conduct a thorough review of the operation at the end of its current mandate, in the light of steps taken by the parties to achieve a comprehensive settlement;


“21.  Requests the Secretary-General to continue to keep the Council regularly informed and to report three months from the date of the adoption of this resolution on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, and requests also the Secretary-General to provide for a briefing within three months on the progress of the political settlement, including on the status of the draft paper his Special Representative intends to submit to the parties as referred to in paragraph 3 above;


“22.  Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”


Background


In its first meeting this morning, the Security Council was expected to consider extending the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Abkhazia, Georgia.


The Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia (document S/2001/713), provides an update on developments there since his report of 24 April 2001.  As the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) continues to play a crucial role in the stabilization of the zone of conflict, the Secretary-General recommends that its mandate be extended for a further six-month period, until 31 January 2002.  The Mission is headed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Dieter Boden, who is assisted in his task by the Chief Military Observer, Major General Anis Ahmed Bajwa (Pakistan).  The strength of UNOMIG, as at 12 July 2001, stood at 106 military observers.


Initially during the period under report, the security situation in the UNOMIG area of responsibility deteriorated, the Secretary-General states, owing to hostage-taking incidents and increased activity by illegal armed groups.  That resulted in the suspension of the peace process at the request of the Abkhaz side. However, on 11 May, following efforts by the Special Representative and the UNOMIG Chief Military Observer, the Georgian and Abkhaz sides handed over the remains of those killed on 7 and 8 April, and there was an exchange of all detainees.  The lessening of tensions that followed prepared the ground for the seventh session of the Coordinating Council’s working group I on security matters, which was held on 10 July in Sukhumi under the chairmanship of the Chief Military Observer.  In a joint statement, the sides resolved to work together in a spirit of mutual trust in order to avoid further breaches of the Moscow Agreement, to reduce criminal activity and to bring criminals to justice.


However, on 8 and 9 July -- nine days before the thirteenth session of the Coordinating Council was to be held in Tbilisi -- two serious incidents, in which six people were killed and two taken hostage, occurred in the Gulripshi area, outside the UNOMIG area of responsibility.  Work on the fundamental issue of the future status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia intensified following the Security Council meeting of 24 April and the statement of the President of the Council of the same date.  The Group of Friends of the Secretary-General, in close consultation with the Special Representative, has intensified its efforts to finalize the draft paper on the distribution of competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi.  The Special Representative visited Moscow in the middle of July for meetings with high-ranking representatives of the Russian Federation.  The Abkhaz authorities have reiterated their well known position that any discussion of the status issue is obsolete because, in their view, the political status of Abkhazia was conclusively decided upon with the Act of State Independence of 1999.


Also according to the report, notwithstanding the unstable security situation in the zone of conflict, the process of return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to the Gali region has continued steadily.  Only minor progress was recorded on the implementation of the Yalta Programme of Action or other agreed-upon projects.  In June, a reshuffling of the de facto Abkhaz government took place.  On 7 June, Anri Jergenia, who has been intimately involved in the Georgian-Abkhaz negotiation process since 1992, was appointed “Prime Minister”.


The Mission continues to carry out its mandate by means of daily ground patrols from its headquarters in Sukhumi and the two sector headquarters at Gali and Zugdidi, as well as through regular helicopter patrols.  Criminality and lawlessness continue to be major destabilizing factors in the conflict zone. Complaints have repeatedly been lodged by the local population in both sectors about terrorizing and intimidation by armed groups.


The security and safety of UNOMIG personnel remains an issue of high priority, the report states.  Early in July, two local UNOMIG employees were attacked and severely beaten by a group of intoxicated men.  In response to security threats, UNOMIG officers and local law enforcement agencies have stepped up their patrolling activities in the vicinity of houses occupied by UNOMIG personnel, and their security systems have also been upgraded.  In addition, the threat of mines continues to be of great concern.  In violation of the Moscow Agreement, there is a disturbing tendency by the two sides to restrict the movement of UNOMIG personnel, thereby hindering the ability of the Mission to fulfil its mandate.


The report concludes that interruption of negotiating activities following the killings and hostage-taking incidents in April-May and again in July demonstrates that the overall peace process remains fragile.  This is also related to the fact that meaningful negotiations on the future political status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia have not yet begun.  Clearly, in the absence of such negotiations, the entire peace process remains in jeopardy.  In this context, the progress achieved within the Group of Friends on streamlining its position with regard to the draft paper on the distribution of competences between

Tbilisi and Sukhumi is encouraging.  Both sides should show genuine commitment to working together in order to clarify the incidents of 8 and 9 July, release the hostages still being held and bring the perpetrators to justice


Confidence-building measures are an indispensable part of the peace process and should be addressed in their own right, the Secretary-General states, without conditions relating to other matters under negotiation.  The parties are invited to follow up on their Programme of Action, as agreed during the Yalta meeting in March 2001, and to implement the proposals in a purposeful and cooperative manner.  The Moscow Agreement remains a cornerstone of the United Nations peace effort.  The increasing number of violations of this Agreement in the period under review gives rise to grave concern.  The same applies to restrictions of movement imposed on UNOMIG, which prevent the Mission from carrying out its mandate to the full.  I appeal to both sides to immediately reinstate full compliance with all the stipulations of the Moscow Agreement.


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