SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS TAJIKISTAN MISSION UNTIL 15 JUNE
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS TAJIKISTAN MISSION UNTIL 15 JUNE
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS TAJIKISTAN MISSION UNTIL 15 JUNE19970314
The Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) until 15 June 1997, subject to the proviso that the 1994 Tehran Agreement remains in force. That Tehran Agreement called for a cease-fire and the cessation of hostile acts on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border for the duration of the peace talks between Tajikistan's Government and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO).
By unanimously adopting resolution 1099 (1997), the Council requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the situation in Tajikistan not later than 1 June 1997, including recommendations concerning the United Nations presence in that country. The Council also requested that he inform it by 30 April on ways that the United Nations could assist in implementing the Protocol on Military Issues, which signed during inter-Tajik talks held from 26 February to 8 March 1997 in Moscow. The Protocol contains agreements on the reintegration, disarmament and disbandment of the armed units of the UTO, reforming the power structures of Tajikistan and a detailed timetable for their implementation.
Also by the resolution adopted this afternoon, the Security Council strongly condemned the mistreatment of UNMOT observers and other international personnel. It urgently called upon the parties to cooperate in bringing the perpetrators to justice and to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of the personnel of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peace-keeping forces and other international personnel.
Welcoming the agreements reached by the parties since December 1996, the Security Council called upon them to implement good faith agreements and to make further progress at the next round of inter-Tajik talks. The Council expressed satisfaction that the cease-fire had been generally observed by the parties since December 1996, and called for its maintenance throughout the duration of the inter-Tajik talks.
Finally, the Security Council commended the efforts of UNMOT and of the Secretary-General's Special Representative and called upon the parties to cooperate with him in conducting the inter-Tajik talks. The Council called upon Member States and others to respond to the consolidated inter-agency
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donor alert on urgent humanitarian needs for the period 1 December 1996 to 31 May 1997, and to contribute to the voluntary fund established by the Secretary-General.
The UNMOT was established in November 1994 to monitor the cease-fire established by the Tehran agreement and to provide good offices. The UNMOT is distinct from, but maintains close liaison with, Russian border forces and the CIS Collective Peace-Keeping Forces in Tajikistan.
Addressing the Council this afternoon, the representative of Tajikistan said that national reconciliation was a long-term process involving all segments of society and regions of the country. While important gains had been made in the peace process, the plight of refugees and displaced persons was still a matter for concern. He urged Member States to respond to the Secretary-General's appeal for humanitarian assistance.
Peace had become irreversible in Tajikistan, the representative of the Russian Federation told the Council. The last two rounds of inter-Tajik talks had helped achieve national reconciliation, and the Protocol on Military Issues negotiated to in March had opened the way for a final settlement.
The representative of the United States said that his country could not in good conscience condone the return of all UNMOT personnel to Tajikistan for another extension of its mandate until it was clear that they could carry it out free from threats to their lives and liberty. The establishment of peace in Tajikistan required support for national reconciliation from the entire Tajikistan population and from all of its regions and political movements.
The meeting began at 4:30 p.m. and adjourned at 4:55 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in Tajikistan.
The Council had before it a report of the Secretary-General (document S/1997/198) in which he recommends that the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) be extended for a period of three months, until 15 June, on the understanding that he would keep the Council informed of significant developments.
The Secretary-General states that he will maintain, for the time being, suspension of United Nations activities in that country, with the exception of a limited presence on the part of UNMOT. That suspension had been necessitated by the continuing state of flux in the country which had placed international personnel at particular risk. He states that his decision would be subject to continuous monitoring and reassessment of the situation and to the institution of more rigorous security measures by the Government of Tajikistan.
Summarizing political developments in Tajikistan, the Secretary-General states that the agreement on the Charter of the Commission on National Reconciliation and on an additional protocol concerning the distribution of government posts, signed between President Emomali Rakhmonov and Mr. Nuri, the leader of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), on 20 and 21 February at Mashhad, Iran, adds to the growing list of recent agreements which include the Khusdeh protocol of 11 December 1996, the Moscow agreement and protocol of 23 December 1996, and the Tehran protocol of 13 February 1997 regarding refugees.
While expressing encouragement regarding the political process, the Secretary-General states that he is "profoundly disturbed" at threats to United Nations personnel. He states that he could not in good conscience let them return to "business as usual" unless they received reasonable assurances of their safety. Summarizing developments in the negotiating process, the Secretary- General states that following the January round of inter-Tajik talks, his Special Representative, Gerd Dietrich Merrem, had continued contacts with both sides, as well as with representatives of observer countries. A number of Tajik groups, which did not feel represented by either the Government or the UTO, had expressed to UNMOT their desire to participate. The United Nations had encouraged them to associate with groups involved in the talks.
On 26 February, the Secretary-General's Special Representative opened a round of inter-Tajik talks in Moscow which included Tajikistan Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov and Akbar Turajonzodah, First Deputy Chairman of the UTO. Both sides presented working papers on the reform of the armed forces, police and security and on the integration of UTO forces into those structures or civilian life.
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Summarizing the situation on the ground, the Secretary-General states that the situation in the Karategin Valley and Tavildara sector had eased further since his last report. The cease-fire between the Government and the UTO has generally held. In mid-January, UNMOT carried out a number of patrols between Dushanbe and Garm to confirm security guarantees it had received from both parties.
On 3 February, five UNMOT personnel en route from Garm to Dushanbe for the medical evacuation of a military observer were taken hostage by the same armed group that was responsible for abducting 23 persons on 20 December. On 5 February, the same group took an additional seven persons hostage: a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), her interpreter, and five journalists. The next morning, four staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were taken hostage. On 7 February, the Tajik Minister for Security, Saidamir Zukhurov, was taken hostage while trying to negotiate their release.
On 7 February, following the personal intervention of President Rakhmonov, the two ICRC personnel were released and, on 11 February, the sick UNMOT military observer was released. Following a series of negotiations, two hostages were released on 14 February and five on 16 February. The last six were released on 17 February, after lengthy negotiations conducted between President Rakhmonov and members of the group.
In the light of those developments, the Secretary-General authorized on 8 February the suspension of all United Nations activities in the country, and in two stages the relocation to Uzbekistan of all United Nations personnel in Tajikistan, except for a small UNMOT team in Dushanbe and a civilian liaison office in Khujand. At the beginning of March, UNMOT's overall strength was 82.
Summarizing the financial status of the Mission, the Secretary-General recalls that the General Assembly, by its resolution 50/238 of 7 June 1996, appropriated $7,478,900 gross for the maintenance of the Mission for the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997. Should the Council decide to extend the mandate of UNMOT beyond 15 March 1997, the cost of maintaining the Mission is estimated at $623,242 gross per month, assuming continuance of its existing strength and responsibilities.
As at 28 February, unpaid assessed contributions to the special account for UNMOT from the inception of the Mission to 15 March 1997 amounted to $2,430,119, which represents some 12 per cent of the assessment of the Mission. The unpaid assessed contributions for all peace-keeping operations amounted to $1.9 billion.
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The Council also had before it a draft resolution (document S/1997/216), 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 5 March 1997 (S/1997/198),
"Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Tajikistan and to the inviolability of its borders,
"Welcoming the agreements signed by the President of Tajikistan and the leader of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) since December 1996 by which the efforts towards national reconciliation have been made important progress and gained strong momentum, noting with satisfaction the personal contribution made in this respect by the President of Tajikistan and the leader of the UTO, with the assistance of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, and encouraging the parties to continue their efforts to this end,
"Welcoming in particular the results of the latest round of inter-Tajik talks held in Moscow from 26 February to 8 March 1997, including signing of the Protocol on Military Issues (S/1997/209, annexes), which contains agreements on reintegration, disarmament and disbandment of the armed units of the UTO, reforming the power structures of the Republic of Tajikistan and a detailed timetable for their implementation,
"Taking note of the requests of the parties, contained in the Statute of the Commission on National Reconciliation (S/1997/169, annex I) and in the Protocol on Military Issues, for the assistance of the United Nations in the full and effective implementation of these agreements,
"Gravely concerned over the worsening humanitarian situation in Tajikistan,
"Deeply concerned over continuing attacks on the personnel of the United Nations, the Collective Peace-keeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and other international personnel in Tajikistan, and deploring the deterioration in the security situation which necessitated the Secretary-General's decision to suspend the United Nations activities in Tajikistan, except for a limited presence of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT),
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"1. Expresses its appreciation for the report of the Secretary-General of 5 March 1997; "2. Welcomes the agreements reached by the parties since December 1996, in particular the Protocol on Military issues, which represents an important new step towards the successful completion of the task of national reconciliation in Tajikistan, and calls upon the parties to honour and implement consistently and in good faith these agreements, as well as to make further substantive progress in the next rounds of the inter-Tajik talks;
"3. Expresses its satisfaction that the cease-fire has been generally observed by the parties since December 1996, and calls upon the parties to maintain it scrupulously for the whole duration of the inter-Tajik talks in accordance with their obligations and commitments;
"4. Strongly condemns the acts of mistreatment against UNMOT and other international personnel, and urgently calls upon the parties to cooperate in bringing the perpetrators to justice, to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of the personnel of the United Nations, the CIS peace-keeping forces and other international personnel, and to cooperate fully with UNMOT;
"5. Calls upon the Government of Tajikistan, in particular, to take further, more rigorous security measures to this end, thus enabling the international community vigorously to support Tajikistan on its difficult path from armed conflict to normal peaceful life;
"6. Decides to extend the mandate of UNMOT until 15 June 1997 subject to the proviso that the Tehran Agreement (S/1994/1102, annex I) remains in force and the parties demonstrate their commitment to the new agreements already reached, and further decides that this mandate will remain in effect until that date unless the Secretary-General reports to the Council that these conditions have not been met;
"7. Welcomes the intention of the Secretary-General to inform the Council of any significant developments with regard to the situation in Tajikistan, in particular of a decision to resume all United Nations activities presently suspended, including those of UNMOT;
"8. Requests the Secretary-General to inform the Council by 30 April 1997 on possible ways and means by which the United Nations could assist in the implementation of the Protocol on the Military Issues;
"9. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on the situation in Tajikistan to the Council no later than 1 June 1997, including recommendations on the United Nations presence in Tajikistan, in particular the manner in which the United Nations can assist in the implementation of the inter-Tajik agreement, based on the requests by the parties contained in these agreements and in the light of the security situation;
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"10. Commends the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and of the personnel of UNMOT, and calls upon the parties to cooperate fully with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in conducting the inter-Tajik talks in order to achieve a comprehensive political settlement;
"11. Calls upon Member States and others concerned to respond promptly and generously to the consolidated inter-agency donor alert on urgent humanitarian needs for the period from 1 December 1996 to 31 May 1997 launched by the Secretary-General, and to offer support to Tajikistan for rehabilitation, aimed at mitigation of the consequences of the war and reconstruction of its economy;
"12. Encourages Member States to contribute to the voluntary fund established by the Secretary-General in accordance with its resolution 968 (1994);
"13. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said that the achievement of peace, stability and civil harmony was the central task being pursued by his Government. Step by step, Tajikistan had moved towards national reconciliation. The documents signed between the President of Tajikistan and the leader of the UTO had established a cease-fire that had held since December 1996. The round of inter-Tajik talks which concluded in Moscow earlier this month had produced a Protocol on Military Issues which set out a timetable for government reform. The progress made at that round of negotiations had been made possible by the support of the Governments of the Russian Federation, Iran and of observer States. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General had also helped facilitate the accords.
The Government of Tajikistan had resolved to achieve comprehensive national reconciliation and peace, he continued. At the same time, it recognized that national reconciliation was a long-term process involving all segments of society and regions of the country. The recent attacks on United Nations personnel and hostage-takings perpetrated against diplomats, journalists and peace-keepers had been overcome only through the personal intervention of the President and Government of Tajikistan. The Russian Federation had also played a vital role in that regard. Terrorism and acts of violence were an effort to cast doubt on the Tajikistan Government's ability to maintain order and combat crime. His Government would do everything necessary to ensure that order was maintained, even at a time when Tajikistan was undergoing the difficult transition from war to peace.
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The plight of refugees and displaced persons was still a matter for concern, he said. He urged Member States to respond to the Secretary- General's appeal for humanitarian assistance. The United Nations had expended maximum effort to help achieve peace in Tajikistan, he said.
SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that the Security Council was today making an important response to the breakthrough that had been achieved in Tajikistan. In recent months, peace in Tajikistan had become irreversible. The last two rounds of inter-Tajik talks had helped achieve national reconciliation. The Russian Federation hoped that the Government and the UTO would continue their efforts for peace.
The recently negotiated Protocol on Military Issues contained detailed measures on integration and disbandment of the military forces of the opposition and opened the way to a final settlement, he said. A Protocol on Political Issues needed to be completed before the fourth round of inter-Tajik talks. The United Nations was playing an important role in assisting the implementation of those agreements.
Terrorist groups in Tajikistan had taken action against CIS peace- keepers and UNMOT observers in an effort to harm the peace process, he said. Only by resolving the hostage situation could the United Nations contribute to expanding the peace. The war in Tajikistan had destroyed the economy and displaced thousands of refugees. In supporting the efforts of the Secretary- General's Special Representative, the Russian Federation would attempt to move the negotiating process towards true national reconciliation.
EDWARD W. GNEHM, JR. (United States), speaking in explanation of vote, said his country was pleased with the progress being made in the inter-Tajik talks to bring an end to the conflict. The United States supported the adoption of a three-month extension of UNMOT's mandate to signal the Council's encouragement of the political process.
The search for peace had gained momentum rapidly in the three months since the Council last renewed UNMOT's mandate, he continued. The parties, in a spirit of compromise and reconciliation, had held two full negotiating rounds and another summit meeting. They had succeeded in abiding by an effective cease-fire, evolved a framework for restructuring the government and sharing power, and, most recently at the latest Moscow round, agreed on a method of combining armed forces. The Protocol on Military Issues signed in Moscow represented a very significant, practical step forward towards building trust, ending Tajikistan's civil conflict and reintegrating the Tajik nation. The United States was grateful to the Russian Federation for facilitating those negotiations, he said.
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The United States congratulated the parties for those accomplishments and urged them to complete successfully the difficult task of negotiating peace for their country. It called upon the parties to implement fully their agreements and to ensure the participation of all their forces in implementing the accords.
He said that in contrast to those successes, however, the security threat to international personnel had hindered the ability of the international community to assist the parties in their quest for peace. Those threats had forced the Secretary-General to suspend United Nations activities in Tajikistan to the real detriment of its people. The situation should be resolved immediately. In the last three months, unarmed UNMOT personnel had been taken hostage and subjected to gross mistreatment, including the threat of execution.
Other international personnel had also fallen victim to similar abuse, he said. A campaign of terrorism had targeted persons appearing to be ethnic Russians, including two guards at the United States Embassy in Dushanbe, for assassination. The United States was highly concerned that that unacceptable security situation made it impossible for UNMOT to fulfil the military portions of its mandate.
The United States welcomed the joint communiqué from President Emomali Rahmonov and Said Abdullo Nuri deploring the acts of terrorism and called upon the parties to fulfil their commitments to create a reasonably safe environment for international personnel . The United States recognized that the Government of Tajikistan had made efforts to bring to justice some of the criminal elements responsible for those abuses. Nevertheless, it could not in good conscience condone the return of all UNMOT personnel to Tajikistan or another extension of its current mandate beyond 15 June, until it was clear that they would be able to carry out their mandate free of threats to their lives and liberty.
The United States, he said, looked forward to continued good news form the inter-Tajik talks and an easing of the security situation. Establishment of peace in Tajikistan required support for national reconciliation from the entire population of Tajikistan and from all of its regions and political movements. Reconciliation would create conditions for a democratic society and a peaceful and prosperous Tajikistan, he said.
The draft resolution was then unanimously adopted as Security Council resolution 1099 (1997).
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