30/01/2003
Press Release
SC/7651



Security Council

4697th Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS OBSERVER MISSION IN GEORGIA UNTIL 31 JULY,

UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1462 (2003)


The Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) until 31 July, and decided to further review that mandate unless a decision on the presence of the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping force is taken by 15 February.


The Council, unanimously adopting resolution 1462 (2003), also strongly supported continuing efforts to promote the achievement of a comprehensive political settlement, which must include a settlement of the political status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia.


In addition, the Council reiterated its support for the document on “Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi”.  At the same time, it regretted the lack of progress on the initiation of political status negotiations and deeply regretted the repeated refusal of the Abkhaz side to agree to a discussion on the substance of the document.  It again strongly urged the Abkhaz side to receive the document and its transmittal letter, and urged both parties to give them full and open consideration.


Stressing that the continued lack of progress on key issues of a comprehensive settlement of the conflict was unacceptable, the Council strongly urged the parties to ensure the necessary revitalization of the peace process in all its major aspects, including considering holding a fourth conference on confidence-building measures.  


In addition, the Council welcomed the additional safeguards for helicopter flights instituted in response to the shooting down of a UNOMIG helicopter on

8 October 2001, and called, once again, on the parties to take all necessary steps to identify those responsible for the incident and to bring them to justice.


Today’s meeting began at 12:30 p.m. and adjourned at 12:32 p.m.


Resolution


The full text of resolution 1462 (2003) reads, as follows:


The Security Council,


Recalling all its relevant resolutions, in particular resolution 1427 (2002) of 29 July 2002,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 13 January 2003 (S/2003/39),


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,


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


Recalling its condemnation of the shooting down of a helicopter of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) on 8 October 2001, which resulted in the death of the nine people on board, and deploring the fact that the perpetrators of that attack have still not been identified,


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


Welcoming the important contributions made by UNOMIG and the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS peacekeeping force) in stabilizing the situation in the zone of conflict, and stressing its attachment to the close cooperation existing between them in the performance of their respective mandates,


“1.Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General of 13 January 2003 (S/2003/39);


“2.Reaffirms the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, and the necessity to define the status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia in strict accordance with these principles;


“3.Commends and 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.Reiterates, in particular, its support for the document on “Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi” and for its letter of transmittal, finalized by, and with the full support of, all members of the Group of Friends;


“5.Regrets the lack of progress on the initiation of political status negotiations, and recalls, once again, that the purpose of these documents is to facilitate meaningful negotiations between the parties, under the leadership of the United Nations, on the status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia, and is not an attempt to impose or dictate any specific solution to the parties;


“6.Underlines further that the process of negotiation leading to a lasting political settlement acceptable to both sides will require concessions from both sides;


“7.Deeply regrets, in particular, the repeated refusal of the Abkhaz side to agree to a discussion on the substance of this document, again strongly urges the Abkhaz side to receive the document and its transmittal letter, urges both parties thereafter to give them full and open consideration, and to engage in constructive negotiations on their substance, and urges those having influence with the parties to promote this outcome;


“8.Welcomes in that regard the Secretary-General’s intention to invite senior representatives of the Group of Friends to an informal brainstorming session on the way ahead;


“9.Calls on the parties to spare no efforts to overcome their ongoing mutual mistrust;


“10.Condemns any violations of the provisions of the Moscow Agreement of 14 May 1994 on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces (S/1994/583, annex I);


“11.Welcomes the decrease of tensions in the Kodori Valley and the intention reaffirmed by the parties to resolve the situation peacefully, recalls its strong support to the protocol signed by the two sides on 2 April 2002 regarding the situation in the Kodori Valley, calls on both sides, and in particular the Georgian side, to continue to fully implement this protocol, and recognizes the legitimate security concerns of the civilian populations in the area, calls on the political leaders in Tbilisi and Sukhumi to observe security agreements, and calls on both sides to spare no efforts to agree a mutually acceptable arrangement for security of the population in, and in the vicinity of, the Kodori Valley;


“12.Calls on the Georgian side to continue to improve security for joint UNOMIG and CIS peacekeeping force patrols in the Kodori Valley to enable them to monitor the situation independently and regularly;


“13.Strongly urges the parties to ensure the necessary revitalization of the peace process in all its major aspects, to resume their work in the Coordinating Council and its relevant mechanisms, to build on the results of the Yalta meeting on confidence-building measures in March 2001 (S/2001/242), to implement the proposals agreed on that occasion in a purposeful and cooperative manner, and to consider holding a fourth conference on confidence-building measures;


“14.Stresses the urgent need for progress on the question of the refugees and internally displaced persons, calls on both sides to display a genuine commitment to make returns the focus of special attention and to undertake this task in close coordination with UNOMIG, reaffirms the unacceptability of the demographic changes resulting from the conflict, 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) and the Yalta Declaration, recalls that the Abkhaz side bears a particular responsibility to protect the returnees and to facilitate the return of the remaining displaced population, and requests further measures to be undertaken inter alia by the United Nations Development Programme, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to create conditions conducive to the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, including through quick-impact projects, 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;


“15.Urges once again the parties to implement the recommendations of the joint assessment mission to the Gali district, carried out under the aegis of the United Nations, welcomes the recent visit of a United Nations police assessment team to Gali and Zugdidi sectors, looks forward to its recommendations, and calls in particular on the Abkhaz side to improve law enforcement involving the local population and to address the lack of instruction in their mother tongue for the ethnic Georgian population;


“16.Calls on both parties publicly to dissociate themselves from militant rhetoric and demonstrations of support for military options and for the activities of illegal armed groups, and encourages the Georgian side in particular to continue its efforts to put an end to the activities of illegal armed groups;


“17.Welcomes the additional safeguards for helicopter flights instituted in response to the shooting down of a UNOMIG helicopter on 8 October 2001, calls, once again, on the parties to take all necessary steps to identify those responsible for the incident, to bring them to justice, and to inform the Special Representative on the implementation of these steps;


“18.Underlines that it is the primary responsibility of both sides to provide appropriate security and to ensure the freedom of movement of UNOMIG, the CIS peacekeeping force and other international personnel;


“19.Welcomes constant review by UNOMIG of its security arrangements 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 July 2003, and to further review that mandate unless a decision on the presence of the CIS peacekeeping force is taken by 15 February 2003;


“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;


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


Background


The Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia (document S/2003/39) states that when he reported to the Council last January, there were grounds for optimism.  His Special Representative, Heidi Tagliavini, had finalized a paper, entitled "Basic Principles for the Distribution of

Competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi", which provided the conceptual basis on which negotiations on a comprehensive settlement of the conflict could take place.


Now, after one year of strenuous efforts by the Special Representative and the Group of Friends, the two sides have not moved much closer to the start of negotiations, the report continues.  The tone of the parties has hardened, there is a deep mistrust between them and they show little sign of willingness to make the substantive compromises necessary for a meaningful peace process.  The Abkhaz side, in particular, refuses to even enter into discussions on the principles on which negotiations should be based.  In order to overcome the present impasse, the Secretary-General intends to invite senior representatives of the Group of Friends to an informal brainstorming session on the way ahead.


The resumption of Coordinating Council meetings is essential for further progress to be made in the Georgian-Abkhaz peace process and, in particular, to turn the recommendations of the working groups into firm commitments.  A prompt convening of the next session of the Council -– which last met in January 2001 -– would also make it possible for a timely decision to be made on a fourth conference on confidence-building and for preparations to begin.


The return of internally displaced persons to their homes in safe and secure conditions remains a burning issue, states the report.  Regrettably, no progress has been made in the implementation of the 1994 quadripartite agreement on the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons.  An assessment mission has been conducted regarding strengthening law enforcement institutions, and the Secretary-General welcomes the cooperation of the two sides as a positive sign of their willingness to improve the situation for returnees and internally displaced persons.


The Secretary-General emphasizes once again that both the Georgian and Abkhaz sides bear responsibility for the safety of UNOMIG civilian and military personnel, as well as for safeguarding their freedom of movement at all times.  They must also bring the perpetrators of crimes against United Nations personnel to justice.


As the presence of UNOMIG remains essential for maintaining stability in the conflict zone and for pursuing the process towards a political settlement of the conflict, the Secretary-General recommends a further extension of the Mission's mandate for six months, until 31 July.


* *** *