SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF UNMOT UNTIL 15 DECEMBER19960614
The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) until 15 December, provided that the Tehran Agreement remains in force and the parties demonstrate their commitment to an effective cease-fire, national reconciliation and the promotion of democracy.
Through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1061 (1996), the Council decided that UNMOT's mandate would remain in effect, unless the Secretary- General reported that those conditions had not been met. The Council would review the future of the United Nations commitment in Tajikistan if prospects for the peace process did not improve during the current mandate period.
The Council called on the parties to cease hostilities immediately and to comply with the Tehran Agreement and all other obligations they have assumed. It also called on them to cooperate fully with the Secretary- General's Special Representative and to resume the inter-Tajik talks without delay. It strongly urged that they extend the cease-fire for the entire duration of those talks.
In addition, the Council called on the parties to cooperate fully with UNMOT and to ensure the safety of personnel of the United Nations and other international organizations. The parties, and particularly the Government, were also called on to lift all restrictions on UNMOT personnel's freedom of movement.
The Council called on the parties to resume the Joint Commission's activities without delay, and encouraged the Tajik opposition to accept in good faith the security guarantees offered to them by the government. It urged the parties to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the exchange of prisoners and detainees, and called on the Afghan authorities and the United Tajik Opposition to finalize arrangements for additional liaison post at Taloqan.
The Joint Commission, established under the 1994 "Tehran Agreement", is the main instrument for maintenance of the cease-fire in Tajikistan. It is composed of members of both the Government and the opposition.
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Statements were made by the representatives of Tajikistan, Germany, the Russian Federation, Botswana, Republic of Korea, Honduras, Guinea Bissau, China, Chile, Indonesia, United States, Poland, and Egypt. The representative of Italy spoke as the Presidency of the European Union, with the support of a number of States, and the United Kingdom spoke on a related point of order.
The meeting, which was called to order at 10:30 a.m., was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.
In his report to the Council covering progress in the last three months towards a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict in Tajikistan (document S/1996/412), the Secretary-General recommends that the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) be extended for another six months until 15 December. If there is no sign of progress by then, he adds, "I would recommend that the Security Council review the United Nations commitment in this theatre". The Secretary-General expresses great concern at the seriously deteriorating situation in Tajikistan, which he describes as the "worst and most volatile" since the end of the civil war in 1992. Large-scale fighting in the Tavildara region has resulted in many human losses, interrupted communications between the capital and a large part of the country, and aggravated dramatically the humanitarian situation of the civilian population. According to UNMOT reports, the fighting is continuing.
Such developments raise serious questions about the sincerity and intentions of the Tajik parties, the Secretary-General says. However, his new Special Representative for Tajikistan, Gerd Merrem, who is also Head of Mission, has just begun his activities and should be given time to show results. The support of interested governments would be essential in that regard. Both parties believe the conflict cannot be settled by military means and have expressed their willingness to resume the inter-Tajik negotiations as soon as possible, the report adds.
The first priority is to restore an effective cease-fire, the Secretary- General stresses. He appeals to the Tajik parties to stop fighting immediately and comply strictly with their obligations under the cease-fire agreement. The Secretary-General's Special Representative has been instructed to facilitate the convening of the next round of inter-Tajik talks as soon as possible in order to discuss modalities to restore and enhance the cease-fire.
The activities of the Joint Commission of the Tajik parties have been suspended for more than three months, because of a lack of security for its opposition members. [The Joint Commission -- established under the 1994 Agreement on a Temporary Cease-fire and the Cessation of Other Hostile Acts on the Tajik-Afghan Border and within the Country for the Duration of Talks (also known as the Tehran Agreement) -- consists of representatives of the Government and of the opposition and is the main instrument for the maintenance of the cease-fire.] The Secretary-General calls on both sides to create the necessary conditions for UNMOT to function effectively and for the Joint Commission to resume its activities as soon as possible. He also calls on the Afghan authorities and the United Tajik Opposition to finalize arrangements for the establishment of an additional post in Taloqan, Afghanistan, for the purpose of maintaining liaison with the opposition leaders stationed there.
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Text of Draft Resolution
Also before the Council is a draft resolution (document S/1996/430), which reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling all its relevant resolutions and the statements of its President,
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 7 June 1996 (S/1996/412),
"Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Tajikistan and to the inviolability of its borders,
"Expressing its grave concern at the serious deterioration of the situation in Tajikistan and stressing the urgent need for the Tajik parties to adhere sincerely and in good faith to the commitments they have made,
"Recalling the commitments made by the parties to resolve the conflict and to achieve national reconciliation in the country exclusively through peaceful, political means on the basis of mutual concessions and compromises, and stressing the inadmissibility of any hostile acts in Tajikistan and on the Tajik-Afghan border,
"Stressing the need for an early resumption of talks between the Government of Tajikistan and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), expressing its hope that substantive progress will be achieved as soon as possible towards a political settlement of the conflict and encouraging the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative in this direction,
"Emphasizing that the primary responsibility rests with the Tajik parties themselves in resolving their differences, and that the international assistance provided by this resolution must be linked to the process of national reconciliation and the promotion of democracy,
"Expressing its satisfaction at the regular contacts between the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) and the Collective Peace- keeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Russian border forces and the Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Tajikistan,
"1. Expresses its appreciation for the report of the Secretary-General of 7 June 1995;
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"2. Calls upon the parties immediately to cease hostilities and to comply fully with the Tehran Agreement (S/1994/1102, annex 1) and all the other obligations they have assumed, and strongly urges them to extend the cease-fire for the whole duration of the inter-Tajik talks;
"3. Decides to extend the mandate of UNMOT until 15 December 1996 subject to the proviso that the Tehran Agreement remains in force and the parties demonstrate their commitment to an effective cease-fire, to national reconciliation and to the promotion of democracy, and further decides that this mandate will remain in effect unless the Secretary-General reports to the Council that these conditions have not been met;
"4. Expresses its intention to review the future of the United Nations commitment in Tajikistan should the prospects for the peace process not have improved during the mandate period;
"5. Calls upon the parties to cooperate fully with the Secretary- General's Special Representative and to resume the round of inter-Tajik talks without delay in order to achieve a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict, with the assistance of the countries and regional organizations acting as observers at the inter-Tajik talks;
"6. Calls upon the parties to cooperate fully with UNMOT and to ensure the safety of the personnel of the United Nations and other international organizations, and also calls on them, in particular the Government of Tajikistan, to lift all restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNMOT personnel;
"7. Calls also upon the parties to resume the activities of the Joint Commission without delay and, in this context, encourages the Tajik opposition to accept in good faith the security guarantees offered to them by the Government of Tajikistan;
"8. Calls upon the Afghan authorities and the UTO to finalize arrangements that would permit the establishment of an additional liaison post at Taloqan;
"9. Urges the Tajik parties to cooperate fully with the International Committee of the Red Cross to facilitate the exchange of prisoners and detainees between the two sides;
"10. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the Tehran Agreement, progress towards a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict and the operations of UNMOT;
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"11. Expresses its deep concern over the worsening of the humanitarian situation, aggravated by the recent natural calamities, and urges Member States and others concerned to respond promptly and generously in support of the humanitarian relief efforts of the United Nations and other international organizations;
"12. Encourages States to contribute to the voluntary fund established by the Secretary-General in accordance with resolution 968 (1994) in particular in the expectation of the resumption of work of the Joint Commission;
"13. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikstan) said his Government was committed to a peaceful, political settlement of existing problems and favoured the continuation of inter-Tajik talks under the aegis of the United Nations. To facilitate early resumption of the Joint Commission's efforts to implement the cease-fire agreement, his Government had reaffirmed its readiness to provide protection for the representatives of the opposition members of the Commission.
He said the Government was cooperating with the Secretary-General's Special Representative and with UNMOT and had taken additional steps to establish civil peace within the country. The agreement on national accord initiated by his Government had been signed by nearly 40 political parties, social movements, national associations and religious communities; it represented a model of national reconciliation.
A government initiative to hold a special session of the Parliament with the participation of the Islamic Revival Movement and other members of the opposition could have been a turning point, he said. Unfortunately, the opposition leaders had refused to participate, thus violating the sole agreement fixed in the Ashgabad declaration. The opposition's armed wing continued to resort to terrorist acts and intimidation and to systematically violate the cease-fire.
Despite the support of the international community, Tajikistan's humanitarian situation remained critical, he said. It was hoped there would be a prompt response to the Council's appeal for support of humanitarian relief efforts. His Government was convinced that continuation of the inter- Tajik talks and settlement of disagreements through political means was the only way to restore stability to the country. He would welcome the extension of UNMOT's mandate.
FRANCESCO PAOLO FULCI (Italy) said he was speaking in his capacity as
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Presidency of the European Union and that the following countries associated themselves with his statement: Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Iceland and Norway.
He said a solution to the conflict could only be achieved through the inter-Tajik dialogue, which should be resumed without delay. Unfortunately, opposition members had chosen not to participate in the special session of the Parliament, organized by President Rakhmonov as a first step towards the participation of all political forces in Tajikistan in the reconciliation process. The opposition leaders had reiterated their ideas on the establishment of a council on national reconciliation. However, whatever formula was ultimately pursued, national reconciliation must be a central element of the inter-Tajik dialogue.
He welcomed the appointment of the Secretary-General's new Special Representative, Gerd Merrem. As a result of his contacts with the parties and with the leaders of the region, the Government and the opposition had agreed to extend, until August 1996, the Tehran agreement on a temporary cease-fire and on the cessation of other hostile acts on the Tajik-Afghan border and within the country. However, the cease-fire had been seriously violated, and fighting continued.
The parties must respect the obligations they have already undertaken, he said. The international community could not continue providing support and commitment without greater co-operation from the parties themselves. They must build upon their decision in May to extend the cease-fire. Tangible confidence-building measures, such as the unconditional release of the prisoners captured by the opposition in the Tavildara area, should be implemented.
While supporting the extension of UNMOT's mandate, he expressed concern that delays in implementing an effective cease-fire might create a situation in which direct United Nations involvement after that six-month period would not be advisable. Threats to the security of UNMOT personnel could not be tolerated, nor could restrictions be placed on the freedom of movement of the military observers for reasons unrelated to their security. Now, more than ever, a clear message must be sent to the parties that the United Nations considerable efforts, including its participation in the negotiations, could not be taken for granted. Further delays in reaching a significant outcome in the inter-Tajik dialogue might prejudice not only the momentum of those talks, but also badly needed financial support.
TONO EITEL (Germany) said Germany fully supported the statement by Italy on behalf of the European Union. The armed Islamic opposition seemed about to take control of a large and strategically important part of Tajikistan, the Leninabad region, and other areas were gradually slipping from government control. There were even some signs of disunity within the Kulyabi-dominated
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Government, as well as the concrete danger of an "Afghanization" of the conflict, with serious consequences for regional stability.
Both parties bore a heavy load of responsibility for those developments, he said. However, a major obstacle to a settlement was the Government's failure to allow the participation of other regional and political groups in Tajikistan. A viable political compromise could not consist only of power- sharing between the parties to the conflict, but must also aim at establishing a democratic decision-making process. If the Government was not ready to genuinely share power, a compromise could not be reached.
He said Germany supported the extension of UNMOT's mandate, but attached great importance to the intention expressed both in the Secretary-General's report and in the draft resolution to seriously review the future of the United Nations commitment in Tajikistan at the end of that six-month period if there was no meaningful progress in the peace process. First and foremost, there must be an immediate end to hostilities by both sides. If both parties continued to play the military card and drag their feet on a continuation of the inter-Tajik talks, the result could only be pain and misery for the Tajik people. He called on the parties to seek a peaceful, negotiated settlement. If the parties did not respect the obligations they have undertaken, the Council would eventually have to draw the appropriate conclusions.
If UNMOT was to effectively fulfil its mandate, all restrictions on its freedom of movement, especially those imposed by the Government, must be lifted, he said. Verbal assurances were not sufficient. Furthermore, it was imperative that the Joint Commission resume its work, after the walkout by the opposition prompted by the kidnapping of its co-chairman in the Commission on 24 February. It was regrettable that there had been no news from the Government on the results of its investigation into that incident. On the other hand, the Government had now given the written security guarantees asked for by the opposition, and he encouraged the opposition to accept them in good faith.
The parties to the conflict should understand the message of stern warning given to them in today's resolution, he said. The Council was giving the parties what was probably last, six-month chance to demonstrate their commitment to an effective cease-fire and to national reconciliation, with the assistance of the Secretary-General's new Special Representative.
Sir JOHN WESTON (United Kingdom), speaking on a point of order, said the representative of Germany had stated that Italy's Ambassador spoke on behalf of the European Union. However, nowhere in Ambassador Fulci's statement did he claim to be speaking on behalf of the Union. On the contrary, he had been careful to say he was speaking in his capacity as Presidency of the Union. The United Kingdom would have been unable to agree with his speaking on behalf
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of the Union, for reasons with which Germany was familiar and which fell outside the subject of today's Council meeting.
SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said his Government was concerned by the lack of progress towards settlements of the conflict in Tajikistan. He welcomed the statement by the representative of Tajikistan and condemned the opposition's terrorists acts. Terrorism must come to an end. The Russian Federation welcomed the agreement for resumption of the talks and would support the efforts of the Special Representative.
He said the activities of UNMOT represented a serious and restraining factor. The collective peace forces of the CIS would continue to support a peaceful settlement. He welcomed the government's affirmation of its commitment to the safety and freedom of movement of UNMOT personnel and to the protection of the members of the opposition. It was hoped that the Council's unanimous position would be heeded by the parties to the conflict.
MOTHUSI D.C. NKGOWE (Botswana) said his Government was deeply troubled by the large-scale fighting in Tajikistan. It was clear the parties were unwilling to meet the conditions set out in the Council's resolutions. Regrettably, the situation in Tajikistan remained what it was six months ago when the Council last reviewed UNMOT's mandate. There had been no meaningful progress in the inter-Tajik peace talks, despite the parties' stated intention to resolve their differences through political dialogue. It was disturbing that fighting had reportedly reached new levels of intensity since the civil war ended in 1992.
Botswana would vote in favour of the draft resolution, he said. The UNMOT was doing a good job under very trying conditions. Its withdrawal now would be likely to aggravate the situation in Tajikistan and adversely impact on peace and stability in the region. Today's resolution put the parties on notice that the extension of UNMOT's mandate was contingent on their respect for the Tehran Agreement, and effective cease-fire, and progress in the peace talks. The Mission's mandate could not be extended indefinitely. Such extension depended on the cooperation of the parties themselves and on their demonstrable commitment to a political settlement.
They should take serious note of paragraph 4 of the draft resolution, which expressed the Council's intention to review the future commitment of the United Nations in Tajikistan at the end of the next mandate period should the prospects for a lasting peace not improve.
PARK SOO GILL (Republic of Korea) said the military and political dimensions of any conflict were closely intertwined. The situation in Tajikistan was no exception. The delay in the resumption of the inter-Tajik talks was just as disturbing as the situation on the ground. The very fact that the cease-fire had not been faithfully heeded by the Tajik parties
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confirmed the vital importance of political will for the effective implementation of a military commitment.
His delegation was encouraged to know that the Government and the Tajik opposition both believed that the conflict could only be resolved through political dialogue. It was relieved that the two sides had finally agreed on the resumption of the inter-Tajik talks in early July. The safety and freedom of movement of UNMOT's personnel should be ensured. If the Tajik parties truly valued the Mission's role in stabilizing the situation in the country, that was the minimum they could provide.
The activities of the Joint Commission which did not function due to security reasons, should begin again without delay, he said. Its early resumption was of great importance for the effective implementation of the cease-fire agreement. The Mission's regular contacts with the Russian border forces and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peace-keeping forces as well as the close cooperation between UNMOT and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission, should be further encouraged. The liaison between UNMOT and regional arrangements was a compelling evidence of the mutual benefit of such cooperation. The establishment of an additional liaison post at Taloqan should be expedited to maintain contact with the opposition leaders stationed there. In that regard, the speedy finalization of necessary arrangements between the Afghan authorities and the United Tajik Opposition was required above all else.
He noted the Secretary-General's recommendation for the Council to review the United Nations commitment in the theatre of Tajikistan if the prospects for progress had not improved at the end of the next six months. He hoped that would serve as a strong message to the parties concerned that without the prompt restoration of an effective cease-fire as well as due progress in political talks, the Council might have to respond accordingly.
GERARDO MARTINEZ BLANCO (Honduras) said a solution to the conflict could only be attained through peaceful means. The situation in Tajikistan had deteriorated and there had been no progress towards a political settlement. The parties' statements that they favour a resumption of talks and a political settlement seemed to be contradicted by the resumption of hostilities. If the parties wished to resume negotiations, they must comply with the 1994 Teheran cease-fire agreement. The cease-fire should extend throughout the entire duration of the talks.
He expressed regret that hostile acts had been committed against the United Nations observers and their freedom of movement limited. However, despite the obstacles placed in its way, UNMOT's presence helped stabilize the situation in Tajikistan and facilitated the provision of humanitarian assistance.
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BOUBACAR TOURE (Guinea-Bissau) said he would vote in favour of the draft resolution. The parties in Tajikistan were not respecting their obligations and must enter into political dialogue in order to achieve national reconciliation. He was pleased that both parties had agreed that the conflict could not be resolved by military means and that they would resume the inter- Tajik talks and extend the cease-fire. However, the situation had deteriorated and the parties themselves were responsible.
He urged the Government to give the necessary security guarantees to the opposition parties and expressed regret that restrictions had been placed on UNMOT's movements. Cooperation with the Mission was a necessary condition for settling the conflict, he said.
WANG XUEXIAN (China) welcomed the parties' support for the resumption of the inter-Tajik talks. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Tajikistan must be respected and the parties must resolve their differences through political dialogue. As a neighbour of Tajikistan, his country hoped the parties would cooperate with UNMOT and settle their differences in a peaceful manner. The security of the Mission's personnel must be ensured. China would vote in favour of the draft.
JUAN LARRAIN (Chile) said he was frustrated by the reports that the situation in Tajikistan continued to be tense and had seriously deteriorated in some areas. The continued violations of the cease-fire were a matter of concern. He condemned the harassment against United Nations personnel and the restriction on their movements. The safety of United Nations personnel must be strictly guaranteed. Expressing concern at the critical humanitarian situation, he supported the United Nations efforts to help those most in need.
He said Chile attached importance to the appeal to the Tajik parties to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in facilitating the exchange of prisoners. The parties should make their stated positions a reality by resuming negotiations and observing the cease-fire. There should be tangible evidence of their commitment to a political settlement.
NUGROHO WISNUMURTI (Indonesia) expressed alarm at the continued fighting and breakdown of talks in Tajikistan. He called on all parties to cease fighting and to permit the civilian population to return to their homes. It was hoped the new Special Representative would succeed in bringing the parties to the negotiating table. He called on all parties to cooperate with UNMOT and took note of the Government's statement expressing support for the extension of UNMOT's mandate.
The draft resolution was adopted unanimously as Security Council resolution 1061 (1996).
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MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT (United States) expressed concern about the deterioration of the military situation in Tajikistan and the continued lack of progress in the inter-Tajik talks mediated by the United Nations.
The Tajik Government and opposition forces were now engaged in some of the most serious fighting in the country since the end of the civil war in 1992. The two sides continued to profess their commitment to the standing cease-fire but, in practice, had reinforced their troops, conducted offensives and counter-offensives and shown little inclination to end that dangerous spiral.
Areas of northern Afghanistan had reportedly been bombed or shelled in recent months, apparently in connection with the Tajik conflict, she continued, urging in the strongest terms both sides to end the fighting now and abide strictly by the terms of the cease-fire.
The lack of progress in the peace talks were also a serious problem, she continued. The last two sessions of the talks had made little headway towards a resolution of the conflict. "We are dismayed by the seeming inability of the two sides thus far to agree even on confidence-building measures such as prisoner exchanges." One key element towards national reconciliation would be resumption of the Joint Commission operations for monitoring the cease-fire accord.
She supported the resolution's call on the United Tajik Opposition to accept the written security guarantees recently put forward by the Government. She urged the Government to intensify its investigation into the 24 February kidnapping of the opposition co-chairman of the Join Commission, who was still missing. The two sides must also abide by their commitment to allow UNMOT observers freedom of movement and unfettered access to areas where cease-fire violations might have occurred. The UNMOT's activities had been severely impeded by both sides, calling into question their commitment to the Mission.
She underlined her Government's strong endorsement of the resolution calling for a review of UNMOT's future in Tajikistan, should prospects for the peace process not improve during the mandate period. The UNMOT's presence in Tajikistan was a concrete demonstration of the international community's commitment to helping the Tajik parties achieve peace and national reconciliation. However, UNMOT could only be truly effective if the parties recommitted themselves to those objectives.
ZBIGNIEW MATUSZEWSKI (Poland) said his country supported the extension of UNMOT's mandate. The signals from Tajikistan, although weak and inconsistent, were encouraging, particularly the parties' renewed commitment to a political settlement. He welcomed their readiness to resume the inter- Tajik talks, as well as the Government's issuance of security guarantees for the opposition members of the Joint Commission. The decision by both sides to
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extend the cease-fire was also positive, although the parties had yet to prove their sincerity. The continued presence of UNMOT in Tajikistan would contribute to stabilization of the country and help the parties to resolve their conflict peacefully.
Large-scale fighting had caused enormous suffering, loss of life and destruction, he said. The situation now was the worst it had been since the end of the civil war in 1992. The parties seemed untouched by the Council's appeals and requests. That was particularly evident in the way they deal with UNMOT and the restrictions which had been placed on the movement of its personnel.
The Council President, NABIL A. ELARABY (Egypt), speaking as his country's representative, said he had supported the extension of UNMOT's mandate because of concern over the deteriorating situation in Tajikistan. There was an urgent need for prompt resumption of the inter-Tajik talks. The immediate cessation of all hostilities, and compliance by the parties with their the commitments, would help create a climate of trust. The dangers faced by UNMOT personnel must be eliminated. The Mission's personnel must be provided the highest degree of cooperation and security. He reaffirmed the importance of a thorough and comprehensive review of the situation upon expiration of the current mandate period.
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