Security Council Fails to Adopt Resolution Extending Mandate of Georgia Mission for 2 Weeks, as Russian Federation Votes against Text

15 June 2009
SC/9681

Security Council Fails to Adopt Resolution Extending Mandate of Georgia Mission for 2 Weeks, as Russian Federation Votes against Text

15 June 2009
Security Council
SC/9681
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6143rd Meeting (Night)

SECURITY COUNCIL FAILS TO ADOPT RESOLUTION EXTENDING MANDATE OF GEORGIA

MISSION FOR 2 WEEKS, AS RUSSIAN FEDERATION VOTES AGAINST TEXT

Vote: 10 in favour to 1 against, with 4 Abstentions;

‘Rollover Text’ Aimed to Allow More Time for Negotiations on New Mandate

The nearly 16-year United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) was ended this evening, when a draft resolution that would have extended its mandate for just two weeks to allow divergent views to coalesce around a new security regime in the region, failed to pass, owing to a veto exercised by the Russian Federation.

The draft resolution, submitted by Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States, was defeated by a vote of 10 in favour to 1 against (Russian Federation), with 4 abstentions (China, Libya, Uganda, Viet Nam), concluding, for now, a United Nations presence in that region, at a time when, according to the latest Secretary-General’s report, the local population remained in a precarious situation and a ceasefire regime was already eroding.

Since 1994, UNOMIG has monitored the ceasefire ending the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict that drove hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.  Dramatic changes followed the outbreak of hostilities in South Ossetia on 7 and 8 August 2008, which profoundly impacted conditions in the Georgian-Abkhaz zone and the overall conflict-settlement process.

Prior to today’s action, the Security Council unanimously approved a mandate extension of the mission until 15 June, through the passage of resolution 1866 (2009) in February, while expressing its intention to outline by today the elements of a future United Nations presence in the region.  To help foster an agreement on a new security regime in line with that text, the Secretary General presented recommendations for such a regime in his 18 May report to the Council (document S/2009/254). 

The Russian Federation’s representative, speaking before today’s vote, said the Secretary-General’s parameters for a temporary regime, as outlined in the report, could be taken as a mandate for a new stabilization mission.  But, the prior mandate had ceased to exist in connection with the Georgian aggression in South Ossetia in August 2008.  There was no sense in extending it, since it had been built on old realities; security could only be achieved through a new regime.  Bearing in mind the new political and legal conditions, the majority of old terms and terminology in the documents could not be accepted.

The international community must understand the wanton attack of 8 August 2008, which had put an end to the territorial integrity of Georgia and led to the emergence of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia on the world map, he said.  He had suggested a resolution putting in place a new security regime with new terms aimed at corroborating the new territorial integrity of the new republics.  The Security Council could not agree.  He had also supplied a compromise draft with concrete measures to ensure security and stability on the border of Abkhazia and Georgia, which would have included objective monitoring.

Nobody hoped that the new mission would still be called “UNOMIG”, he said, as it was both in Georgia and Abkhazia, but opponents had stubbornly insisted on putting in the text a reference to Security Council resolution 1808 (2008), even in the face of the Georgian aggression, which had changed the political landscape in the trans-Caucasus.  The Russian Federation had expressed its willingness for a new technical extension of the mission for a month to continue an in-depth dialogue.  That decision was to be taken without a “harmful political aftertaste”, but the Russian Federation’s partners had preferred poison to medicine.

He said he could not support the draft on the table, or allow its adoption, for reasons he had indicated.  Putting to a vote a clearly unacceptable draft was not in the interest of supporting stability in the trans- Caucasus, which was not to be found in blind adherence to the vestiges of an outdated reality.  The Russian Federation would continue efforts aimed at ensuring the reliable security of the new young States in the trans-Caucasus and the security of their peoples.

Co-sponsors of the draft resolution regretted the Russian Federation’s decision to block the text, believing that a continuing United Nations presence in Georgia was a vital tool for defusing tensions and maintaining stability.  With today’s veto, said the speaker from the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation had effectively removed a key component of the international community’s ability to promote stability and address the needs of the vulnerable populations in the conflict area.  He, like other Council members, paid tribute to the men and women who had served with the mission since 1993 for their efforts to promote peace and security, despite the difficult circumstances.

France and its partners had put into “blue” the current text proposing a technical rollover to “give oxygen” to the ongoing negotiations, that country’s representative said.  The current text was virtually a copy of the previous technical rollover approved by the Council.  France did not understand why the Russian Federation had ended the mission because of a reference to resolution 1808 (2008).  With its action today, the Russian Federation had assumed responsibility for putting an end to the United Nations 15-year presence in the area.  As it stood now, the local population would be the victims, as the situation on the ground was fragile and the area was unstable and plagued by artificial barriers.

Speaking after the vote, Georgia’s representative said he deeply regretted the termination of the United Nations observer mission by virtue of a single country’s opposition.  That mission had long played an important role in bringing a level of security and stability to the Abkhaz region of Georgia.  The Russian Federation’s rejection of the mission was not an isolated act, but part of a larger strategy that had begun even before its invasion last summer, to roll back the international presence in Georgia.  Last month, the Russian Federation had vetoed the continuation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission.

The bottom line with respect to UNOMIG’s termination was that there would be fewer opportunities to provide unbiased information on either the security situation or human rights violations, he warned.  The termination also meant that it would be more difficult to document any build-up or movement of Russian troops in the region.  It was evident that the Russian Federation did not wish to have any witnesses that could confirm its disrespect for and breach of international obligations.  The Russian Federation continued to breach the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 and the diplomatic measures of 8 September 2008.  The facts were clear:  the Russian Federation was not honouring commitments it had undertaken under legally binding agreements, and it was moving deeper into self-imposed isolation, thus widening the gap between it and the rest of the world.

Statements were also made by the representatives of China, United States, Viet Nam, Japan, Austria, Croatia, Uganda, Costa Rica, Mexico, Libya, Burkina Faso and Turkey.

The meeting, which was called to order at 6:05 p.m., adjourned at 7:02 p.m.

Background

The Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1808 (2008), 1839 (2008) and 1866 (2009) (document S/2009/254), in which the Secretary-General says that, while the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) has contributed to the overall security of the local population, a revised security regime is needed for lasting stability.

Since the Security Council extended UNOMIG’s mandate in February, he says, “the security situation in the Mission’s area of responsibility has remained fragile, with a continued threat of incidents, including from mines and improvised explosive devises”.

According to the report, the local population, particularly in the Gali district, remains in a precarious situation, while the ceasefire regime -- which forms the foundation for separation of forces and stabilization -- continues to erode.

UNOMIG has a mandate to monitor the 1994 ceasefire ending the war in north-west Georgia that drove hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.  The Mission’s area of responsibility in Abkhazia consists of a security zone, where no military presence is permitted; a restricted weapons zone, where no heavy weapons can be introduced; and the Kodori valley.

In order to help foster an agreement on a new security regime in line with Council resolution 1866 (2009), the Secretary General says his Special Representative has engaged with the Georgian and Abkhaz sides and key national stakeholders.

Such a regime, he stresses, must ensure strict adherence to the ceasefire on land, at sea and in the air, as well as to the principle of the non-use of force.  Further, restricted zones must extend for a further 12 kilometres on either side of the ceasefire line and no heavy military equipment must be allowed to enter.  The new regime must also allow for regular United Nations patrols of the Kodori valley and the world body’s personnel must be given security and full freedom of movement, the report adds.

The Secretary-General writes that he envisions the United Nations mission with the mandate to monitor this security regime will maintain contact with the parties and others “with a view to preventing tensions and resolving incidents”, as well as facilitating the free movement of the local population across the ceasefire line.

He says the mission will also contribute to providing humanitarian assistance and creating conditions for the safe return of internally displaced persons.

The Council also had before it photocopies of two letters dated 10 June 2009 from the Permanent Representative of Georgia addressed to the Security Council President, which will be issued respectively as documents S/2009/305 and S/2009/306.

Draft Resolution

The Council also had before it a draft resolution (document S/2009/310) sponsored by Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States, which reads as follows:

The Security Council,

“Recalling all its relevant resolutions including resolutions 1808 of 15 April 2008 (S/RES/1808), 1839 of 9 October 2008 (S/RES/1839) and 1866 of 13 February 2009 (S/RES/1866),

Considering the report of the Secretary-General of 18 May 2009 (S/2009/254),

“1.   Decides to extend the mandate of the United Nations mission for a new period terminating on 30 June 2009;

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

Statement before Vote

Speaking before the vote, VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) drew members’ attention to Russia’s willingness following the May report of the Secretary-General to work constructively on a resolution on a future mandate of a United Nations presence in the region of the Abkhaz border.  The Secretary-General’s parameters for a temporary regime, as outlined in his 18 May report, could be taken as a mandate for a new stabilization mission.

In a few hours, he noted, the mandate of the current United Nations presence in the region would expire.  In the past two weeks, the Group of Friends had held intensive consultations.  The positions of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Abkhazia in support of the United Nations useful role in the Caucasus were well known.  But, the prior mandate had ceased to exist in connection with the Georgian aggression in South Ossetia in August 2008.  There was no sense in extending it, since it had been built on old realities; security could only be achieved through a new regime.  Bearing in mind the new political and legal conditions, the majority of old terms and terminology in the documents could not be accepted.

The international community must understand the wanton attack of 8 August 2008, which had put an end to the territorial integrity of that country and led to the emergence of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia on the world map, he said.  He had suggested a resolution putting in place a new security regime with new terms aimed at corroborating the new territorial integrity of the new republics.  The Security Council could not agree.  He had also supplied a compromise draft with concrete measures to ensure security and stability on the border of Abkhazia and Georgia, which would have included objective monitoring.  The Russian draft could have become a realistic basis for constructive international interaction on the basis of a new United Nations presence in the region.  Based on the monitoring mission of the European Union in Georgia, developing a new United Nations mission mandate would have made it possible to quickly put in place the cooperation of all interested parties towards restoring trust in that “uncalm” region of the trans-Caucasus.

However, that approach had not been accepted, he said.  Nobody hoped that the new mission would still be called “UNOMIG”, as it was both in Georgia and Abkhazia, but opponents had stubbornly insisted on putting in the text a reference to Security Council resolution 1808 (2008), even in the face of the Georgian aggression, which had changed the political landscape in the trans-Caucasus.  Refusing to adopt a pragmatic solution, they said they wanted a technical extension of the old mandate, once again wanting to include a reference to 1808.  The mandate was rolled over in four-month periods.  The time had come for appropriate reflection in the documents for the new political and military realities in the region.  The Russian Federation had expressed its willingness for a new technical extension of the mission for a month to continue an in-depth dialogue.  That decision was to be taken without a “harmful political aftertaste”, but Russia’s partners had preferred poison to medicine.

He said he could not support the draft on the table, or allow its adoption, for reasons he had indicated.  Putting to a vote a clearly unacceptable draft was not in the interest of supporting stability in the trans- Caucasus, which was not to be found in blind adherence to the vestiges of an outdated reality.  The Russian Federation would continue to undertake efforts aimed at ensuring the reliable security of the new young States in the trans-Caucasus and the security of their peoples.

Action on Text

The draft resolution was defeated by a vote of 10 in favour to 1 against ( Russian Federation), with 4 abstentions ( China, Libya, Uganda, Viet Nam).

Statements

Speaking after the vote, JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT (France) said Council resolution 1866 (2009) had noted that the future of UNOMIG would be outlined in accordance with the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report, which had had broad support within the Council when it had been presented.  Subsequently, intensive talks and negotiations had taken place among the Group of Friends, including over the weekend.  The Russian Federation, throughout those talks, had tried to use the process to call into question the territorial integrity of Georgia by introducing “provocative terms”, including concerning Georgia’s borders, over the objections of other Council members.  Curiously, the Russian Federation’s proposed language made no mention of a recent conflict or the ongoing political process.  However, progress had been made on the political front and that should have been noted.

France and its partners had put into “blue” the current text proposing a technical rollover to “give oxygen” to the ongoing negotiations, he said.  The current text was virtually a copy of the previous technical rollover approved by the Council.  Indeed, the Russian Federation had voted unanimously with the Council and even co-sponsored resolution 1866.  The most recent text had made reference to resolution 1808, which had not prevented the Russian Federation from voting for it.  The Russian Federation had asked that such mention be removed from the current text.

He said that France was fundamentally attached to the sovereignty and integrity of Georgia with regard to its internationally recognized borders.   France did not understand why the Russian Federation had ended the mission because of a reference to resolution 1808 (2008).  With its action, the Russian Federation had assumed responsibility for putting an end to the United Nations 15-year presence in the area.  As it stood now, the local population would be the victims.  The situation on the ground was fragile and the area was unstable and plagued by artificial barriers.  The Security Council could not just forget all this.   France would call on all parties in the area to respect 2008 agreements, and to also respect Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized boarders.

LA YIFAN ( China) said his delegation deeply regretted that the Council had not been able to adopt the draft on a technical rollover of the United Nations mission.  In fact, it was only six hours away from the deadline, and further efforts should have been made.  Over the past two weeks, the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General had undertaken painstaking consultations on extension of the mission, and had achieved “some degree of agreement”.  The Chinese delegation had expected the Group to have reached agreement, to have avoided a forced vote.  Unfortunately, the consultations were “bogged in an impasse”.  Under those circumstances, his delegation had abstained in the voting.

He urged the Group of Friends to assess the situation, show maximum flexibility and a constructive attitude, and conduct further consultations towards a compromise plan, as soon as possible.  China had always maintained that all States should abide by the United Nations Charter and international law.  Its position on sovereignty and territorial integrity had been consistently clear, and safeguarding peace and stability of the outer Caucasus and beyond was in conformity with the interests of all sides.  He hoped the parties concerned would remain calm, engage in dialogue in good faith, and adhere to peaceful means to resolve disputes.

ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) said her delegation “deeply regrets” the outcome of the vote.  If it had been adopted, the text would have given the Council time to consider a new mandate for a United Nations presence on the basis of the Secretary-General’s recommendations.  Such a new mandate would have allowed that mission to carry out its important duties and help ensure peace and stability in the region.  A United Nations presence in that area was important and, for that reason, the United States had tried to engage over the past few weeks in good faith negotiations.  Regrettably, the Russian Federation could not agree with other members on language, even though the language mirrored that to which it had had no objections in previous resolutions.

Nevertheless, she said, with the Russian Federation’s action, UNOMIG would expire today, and there was now a need to consider a Georgia without a United Nations presence.  The United Nations would continue to work with the European Union and other partners on the ground to address the situation, particularly since the situation was “tenuous” and the civilian population was bound to suffer.  UNOMIG had accomplished a great deal over the past 15 years.  The Council should remain seized of the matter and the United States looked forward to working with other members of the Council on the matter.

LE LUONG MINH ( Viet Nam) said his delegation continued to believe in the principle of dispute settlement through dialogue and peaceful negotiations, in accordance with international law.   Viet Nam also believed that all Council decisions should take into account the legitimate concerns of all parties involved.  To that end, the resolution before the Council did not have the support of the most concerned parties, or even among all the members of the Group of Friends.  For that reason, Viet Nam had abstained in the vote.  The Council should take into account the new realities on the ground in the region, he said, adding that Viet Nam looked forward to participating in discussions on an adjusted mandate for a United Nations presence.

PHILIP PARHAM ( United Kingdom) said he regretted the Russian Federation’s decision to block the new mandate.  He continued to believe that a continuing United Nations presence in Georgia was a vital tool to defusing tensions and maintaining stability.  Every possible effort had been made to negotiate a new substantive resolution.  He fully endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendations of 18 May for a new security regime and mandate.  The report provided a strong basis, building on previous Security Council resolutions.  He would have preferred a stronger security regime, but he was ready to adopt a mandate along those lines.  Along with the whole international community -- apart from the Russian Federation, which was a party to this conflict along with one other State -- the United Kingdom continued to recognize the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within internationally recognized borders.  It was regrettable, therefore, that the Russian Federation had objected to today’s text and to references that had appeared in previous ones, in an effort to change the terminology on territorial integrity.  The Russian Federation had voted on a whole series of resolutions, including in February 2009, on that territorial integrity and sovereignty.

With today’s veto, he said, the Russian Federation had effectively removed a key component of the international community’s ability to promote stability and address the needs of the vulnerable populations in the conflict area.  Despite the Russian Federation’s decision, the United Kingdom called on all parties, including Russia, to engage in dialogue and cooperation aimed at increasing stability and addressing the needs of civilians on both sides of the border line.  He reiterated the importance for all parties to the conflict to abide by all commitments, as made clear in Council resolution 1866 (2009) and others.  He also wished to see the Council remain seized of the matter.  He paid tribute to the men and women who had served with the mission since 1993 for their efforts to promote peace and security, despite the difficult circumstances.

YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said he supported the peaceful resolution of the issues.  There was an urgent need to improve the humanitarian condition of the internally displaced persons and refugees.  To accomplish that required maintaining a United Nations presence in the Abkhaz region and enhancing the United Nations mandate.  The Secretary-General’s recommendations were a good basis for a new mandate, and he was, therefore, disappointed that no agreement had been reached in the Group of Friends, despite intensive negotiations.  International peace and security in the region could be achieved through international presence, and he, thus, had supported the resolution, with substantive negotiations to be completed within two weeks.  He had also supported 1808 (2008).  After the events of August 2008, two resolutions had been adopted unanimously by the Security Council with reference to resolution 1808; he saw no reason to drop that reference now.  He regretted that the mission extension had not been adopted.  Further effort should be made to ensure peace and security in Georgia and the region.  He, too, thanked the men and women serving UNOMIG for their dedication and good work.

CHRISTIAN EBNER ( Austria) regretted that the Council had been unable to agree on the text before it.   Austria firmly believed that a United Nations mission remained crucial for stability in the region and that such an operation “is in everybody’s interest”.  He praised UNOMIG’s work over the past 15 years.   Austria would continue to support the use of “rollover” resolutions as a tool to give the Council time to clear up lingering differences on crucial matters.  He added that the last two resolutions on UNOMIG had made explicit reference to resolution 1808 (2008) and Austria believed that nothing had happened in the last few months that would call for its deletion.

RANKO VILOVIĆ ( Croatia) said his delegation had, over the past two weeks, participated in the ongoing negotiations within the Group of Friends and shared the concerns of others about the situation on the ground, especially as a result of the erosion of the ceasefire regime.   Croatia had negotiated for an enhanced security regime, in line with the Secretary-General’s recommendations.  At the same time, it would also have liked to have seen the creation of conditions conducive to a swift and safe return of all refuges.

He said his delegation believed that some progress had been made on key issues, but felt that more time was needed “to iron out fine points”.  While noting that the Russian Federation had shown “some flexibility” during the talks, many on the Council had not been willing to trade the principles of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  That was why the Group of Friends had proposed a technical rollover.  The decision taken today would adversely affect the people on the ground, as well as in the wider region.  As the mission came to a close, Croatia urged the participants in the Geneva discussions to step up their talks with the aim of yielding concrete results.  He went on to praise the work of the mission and those that served in it, and also expressed support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

PATRICK S. MUGOYA ( Uganda) called for a resolution of the differences, in order to ensure that a United Nations presence was on the ground.  He was convinced that an international monitoring presence was vital in that region, which had been fragile for some time.  He had supported, and still supported, the continued presence of the United Nations mission to build on the peace and security achievements in the region.  He was disappointed at the lack of progress in reaching a consensus on today’s resolution, as that would lead to the eventual closure of the mission.  Uganda had abstained in the vote, because by voting for the text, the future of the mission would still be in jeopardy.  He regretted the mission’s closure, but called on all parties in the region to exercise restraint and build confidence.  He commended United Nations staff, who had served since 1993, for tireless efforts in contributing to peace and stability in the region.

JORGE URBINA (Costa Rica) said he had voted in favour of the draft in order to give greater time for negotiation, because, as he had said during informal consultations, there was consensus among Council members on the positive role that the United Nations had played in Georgia and regarding the need, in the future, for the presence of a United Nations force, as recommended by the Secretary-General.  That would provide guarantees to the parties to the conflict and contribute to conditions for reconciliation and peaceful cohabitation in Georgia.  Unfortunately, those fundamental agreements had not been sufficient to enable a consensus to extend the mandate of the mission in Georgia.  Costa Rica hoped that that disagreement would not impede the international community’s focus on the situation in Georgia and that it would not produce situations that contravened international law.   Costa Rica took as its guide the principles of international law, as only that could guarantee security.  Its vote in favour of the draft was a reflection of its total opposition to anyone who ignored international law, and its unconditional respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity for the Republic of Georgia, as affirmed in all previous resolutions of the Security Council.

CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution, because it felt UNOMIG was indispensable to ensuring peace in the region and to ensuring stability for its inhabitants.   Mexico had supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations to create a new security regime that would work to avoid outbreaks and ease tensions in the region.   Mexico had also supported the technical rollover, which, if it had been approved, would have allowed the Security Council to continue negotiations and address the needs of the civilian population on the ground.

Mexico regretted that the Council had been unable to adopt the resolution, but it nevertheless looked forward to continued discussions on the Secretary-General’s proposals.  In the meantime, he said, Mexico would continue to plead for dialogue and negotiations to address key issues in the region.  It would also reiterate its condemnation of the use of force and call for a solution to the conflict exclusively through peaceful means, in respect of international law.

IBRAHIM DABBASHI ( Libya) said his delegation had followed the consultations on the resolution very closely over the past few days and regretted that those talks had not led to a formula that addressed the concerns of all parties.  While he believed it was vital to have a peacekeeping mission in the region, he also stressed that any action of the United Nations must have the agreement of all parties.  Moreover, a United Nations presence must be credible and must promote peace and stability.  Since there was no agreement among the parties concerned, Libya had abstained in the vote.  Nevertheless, Libya praised the work of the mission and its staff, and called on all parties not to inflame the situation, whether there was a United Nations mission in the region or not.

PAUL ROBERT TIENDRÉBÉOGO ( Burkina Faso) said he had voted in favour of the draft because he had wanted the United Nations to maintain a presence in the region while talks continued on substance.  He regretted that it had not been possible to allow for a few extra weeks through a rollover extension.  Despite that, he believed in the will of all parties to overcome the difficulties, which, while deep, would allow for a United Nations presence in the region, on the basis of the Secretary-General’s report.  He called on all parties to exercise restraint and to give pride of place to a peaceful settlement of the dispute in the region.

Security Council President BAKI İLKIN (Turkey), speaking in his national capacity, said he believed in the necessity of a United Nations presence in Georgia and, for that reason, had awaited with great expectation the positive outcome of talks in the Group of Friends.  Unfortunately, it had not been possible to reach an understanding until last night.  In order not to cause an abrupt termination of United Nations presence, a two-week technical rollover had been suggested to provide additional time for further consultations.  Regrettably, that had not been possible, “so we are where we are now”.  That should not be seen as Turkey having given up on efforts for a United Nations presence in Georgia.  There was a definite need for a safety valve.  He thanked the men and women of UNOMIG sincerely for their professionalism and dedicated service since 1993.

ALEXANDER LOMAIA ( Georgia) said he deeply regretted the termination of the United Nations observer mission, due to the unconstructive position of the Russian Government.  That mission had long played an important role in bringing a level of security and stability to the Abkhaz region of Georgia.  It had been terminated by virtue of a single country’s opposition.  That was of great concern to his Government and should weigh heavily on this institution.  The Russian Federation’s rejection of the mission was not an isolated act, but part of a larger strategy that had begun even before its invasion last summer, to roll back the international presence in Georgia.  Last month, the Russian Federation had vetoed the continuation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission.

He expressed gratitude to the men and women of UNOMIG for their hard work in protecting the human rights of the remaining population of the occupied region of Georgia.  Their good work had consistently been undermined by Russian military forces and Russian Federation’s proxy administration on the ground.  He also thanked friends of Georgia in the Council and beyond who had worked hard to continue the mission.  He was grateful for their determined efforts and support of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  He would continue to work with them to ensure security throughout the country.  The role of the European Union monitoring mission in that respect was very important.

The bottom line with respect to UNOMIG’s termination was that there would be fewer opportunities to provide unbiased information on either the security situation or human rights violations, he warned.  The termination also meant that it would be more difficult to document any build-up or movement of Russian troops in the region.  The Secretary-General’s May report had clearly confirmed that the Russian Federation was in complete violation of resolution 1866 (2009).  It was evident that the Russian Federation did not wish to have any witnesses that could confirm its disrespect for and breach of international obligations.  The Russian Federation continued to breach the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 and the diplomatic measures of 8 September 2008.  The facts were clear:  the Russian Federation was not honouring commitments it had undertaken under legally binding agreements, and it was going farther into self-imposed isolation, thus widening the gap between itself and the rest of the world. 

In response, Mr. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) drew attention to what he said was a “procedural flaw, which has a serious political subtext and which is one of the reason why we are seeing the end of the mission”.  For many years, the Russian Federation had been patient, even though it had been difficult, while listening to biased statements by Georgia.  For all those years, Abkhaz representatives had been unable to present their views to the Council about Georgia’s actions, which had culminated in the tragic events of August 2008.  He said he could go on and be “very critical” of that situation and of the statement made today by Georgia’s representative, but there wasn’t enough time.

He added that, while he had the floor, he wanted to “give a positive assessment” of all those that had worked in the mission.  At the same time, it was wrong to say that the mission’s work had been obstructed by the Russian military.  Indeed, the Secretary-General’s reports had noted the good work and positive cooperation with the mission of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeepers, who were mostly Russian.

Turning to address the statements of some of his fellow Security Council members, he noted that the representative of France had been incorrect in saying the Russian delegation had been inflexible regarding some terms which would be politically difficult for Western colleagues agree with.  While that might have been so, what was being discussed today was a draft put on the table by the Group of Friends on a technical rollover.  The Russian Federation had also tabled a draft, which he read out, taking note of all relevant resolutions and taking into consideration the report of the Secretary-General.

Russia’s proposal had extended the mandate of the United Nations mission for a new period that would end on 15 July –- an additional two weeks and a month overall.  What was politically unacceptable about that?  Who was putting sticks into the spokes of the Council’s work; the Russian Federation, or those who wanted to push for a politicized technical rollover?  He also noted that in all the statements that had been made to today, as well as in previous resolutions on the matter, no delegation had condemned the aggression by Georgians against South Ossetia.  That was but one oversight that characterized the lack of objective analysis that had led to the Council’s failure today.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.