H.E. Dr. Peter Chkheidze,
Permanent Representative of Georgia to the United Nations,
in the General Debate
of the Fifty-Sixth Session
16 November 2001
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Let me congratulate you on your election to the demanding job of Presidency of the 56th Session of General Assembly. It is a fitting recognition of Korea's role in International Community and your extensive experience and able leadership.
I would also like to extend our congratulations to H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan and the UN, for much deserved award of the Nobel Peace Prize. It should serve as an added source of inspiration for the second term of Secretary General and all of us here.
The 56th Session of the General Assembly runs parallel to the dramatic events for the development of the mankind. On behalf of the Government and people of Georgia I wish to once again express my sincere condolences and compassion to the American people on the tragic events of September 11th.
The writing off global confrontation seems to be far from enough to preserve international peace and security. Today we have to come to grips with no less important and difficult problems and I am confident that only through joint efforts and common values and principles we will manage to resolve them.
Ominous threats we had been talking about for so long have become real. Georgia, a country that over the past decade has suffered tremendously from different manifestations of terrorism, is an active participant in the campaign against terror. Time is ripe for increased cooperation of all the states and peoples of good will in this fight against evil.
I am referring not only to cooperation in the military field. Overconung this evil requires close cooperation in eradicating poverty, development, protection of human rights and many other fields.
The today's realities are the lesson to the mankind in what are the consequences and how costly can indifference and lack of attention to the process all around the world can be.
The UN is certainly a unique organization, where we, the member states, can shape common strategies to combat many of the ills and problems of the day. Variety of these strategies and action plans are worked into the UN resolutions, decisions or declarations.
The United Nations Millennium Declaration
is a great achievement in this regard. It is almost a pledge of nations
in their common fight against manifold challenges we face today. Without
any further delay, Georgia, its people, all the peoples of the world are
in the need of a clear demonstration of readiness to implement the commitments
made in the declaration.
We remain hopeful that the next years' forums on Rights of Children and Financing for Development will bear no signs of formality and empty rhetoric. We look forward to elaboration of new approaches for the implementation of First UN Decade for Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006). We are awaiting the appropriate resolution, which entails the creation of Solidarity Fund for this purpose.
Strengthening of the UN conflict settlement capacity is crucial to the creation of a new world order based on common values and principles. The world order of the 21st century is clearly incompatible with the widespread violations of human rights, leading to the destabilization of international system.
These reforms should encompass the UN peacekeeping operations as well. Georgia supports the measures to enhance the effectiveness of UN preventive mechanisms. In the same context, the early deployment of the peacekeeping contingents should be more coherent and systematized, so as to quell conflicts in their early stages.
The launching of the peacekeeping operation or changing of its mandate requires the consent of all sides involved. We are inclined to think that this approach requires revision. The cause of peace should rank as a higher priority for the UN rather than the consent of any side to the conflict.
Today, when the processes of globalization and integration are underway, the modification of the 1970 General Assembly resolution on the self-determination of nations seems to be in demand. It is necessary to clearly define the principle of selfdetermination so as to avert the attempts of legitimizing separatist tendencies. The international community must adopt a clear-cut position in this regard so that the process of self-determination will not run contrary to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of a state.
In the words of the Secretary-General
"the international community must remain prepared to engage politically,
and if necessary militarily, to contain menace and ultimately resolve conflicts
that have gotten out of hand. This will require a better
Internal conflicts spawned by separatism are no less dangerous to international security than the cold war- period confrontations or conflicts of international character. The reformed UN must be more concrete and decisive in terms of employing the compulsory measures provided in Article 7 of the UN Charter.
Georgia fully shares the view that there is a need to improve the UN system of early availability. We support the timely creation of the UN rapid deployment forces, whose employment in the early stage of peacekeeping operations would contribute to the prevention of many conflicts.
Georgia is a small state with ancient culture and history, age-old tradition of tolerance and respect of human rights. For the better part of the Twentieth century it was a part of the Soviet Union. Large portion of its population, two out of three men, were lost to the scourges of the World War Two, invaluable part of the Georgian intellectual potential was claimed by Stalin's repressive regime. The painful process of breakup of the Soviet Union brought with it an instigated civil confrontation, separatist wars, and occupation by the separatist forces of sizable parts of our territory.
And yet, Georgia managed to rise above the rubble. Despite the existent problems today the transport corridor between the Europe and Asia through the Caucasus is successfully functioning, Azerbaijan's oil is transported through the Georgian ports to the European markets, in the nearest future a large project of oil and gas pipeline will start functioning. Georgia managed to build democratic state and civil institutions, produce high quality products able to compete in the global market. Today, there are foreign tourists in Georgia again. We actively cooperate with number of international organizations and have gained membership in the Council of Europe and the World Trade Organization.
I would like to particularly note the work of the UNDP and other structures under the UN umbrella in Georgia. The assistance is many faceted and they particularly make great contribution to the process of Georgia's democratic transformation. However, a new agenda for our cooperation is also required.
I wish to underscore the joint initiative of the UN and the International Monetary Fund with regard to creating a program for eradication of poverty. Georgia is one of the most active participants of this program. An interesting part of this effort is the elaboration of a program of employing internally displaced persons' in small businesses.
All these process are taking place under the very, difficult conditions and the environment of numerous problems.
In our region we have opportunities of increased regional cooperation, joint efforts to reduce poverty, perspectives of mutually beneficial projects. On the other hand, there is a threat of confrontation, danger of renewed fighting and risk to peace and security. The cooperation with the developed nations can bring the right balance between these possible directions and channel the processes within the region into the mutually beneficial direction.
In the past two years the perspectives of rapid development in Georgia are countered by the absence of progress in the peace process in Abkhazia, Georgia.
It is time to put an end to the spiritual and physical suffering of Georgian, Abkhaz, and other nationalities who have been forced of their homes and lands by the tragedy of war. Most importantly, we cannot imbue to the coming generations hatred and enmity. The value of peace in the region is too high to be sacrificed to the political or commercial ambitions of one, single group.
The time has come to duly react to the ethnic cleansing carried out in Abkhazia, Georgia. The separatists with the help of the outside forces expelled about 300.000 people from their places of residence. The inalienable right of people to live in their homeland is still flagrantly overridden.
On numerous occasions Georgia has expressed its deep concern regarding the presence of uncontrolled regions within the territories of sovereign state, ruled by a de facto separatist regimes. The encouragement of these regimes is totally unacceptable and fraught with dangerous consequences. The tragedy of downing a UN helicopter over Abkhazia, Georgia is one such heartbreaking example.
Here I want to take this opportunity to once again express our deep condolences to the families of the victims who paid the ultimate price for upholding noble principles of the UN.
I would like to use this high podium to bring to your attention the danger of a large-scale provocation Georgia is facing today. I am referring to the facts of violation of Georgia's airspace and the bombing of our territory. Such attacks have taken place before as well, but despite our protests no adequate reaction was forthcoming. Georgia views these facts as an infringement on our sovereignty and an attempt by some forces to subvert the peace process.
All this is taking place at a time when the United States and the international community with her, are mobilized against the most evil enemy of the mankind - international terrorism. Georgia clearly visualizes its place in this fight and President Shevardnadze has repeatedly expressed readiness for cooperation. But it is unacceptable that some states use this noble cause of fighting terrorism as a disguise to reassert influence in the post Soviet Space.
The Government of Georgia reiterates its commitment to the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia. We do believe that use of force runs contrary to our political interests, in particular interests of our multiethnic population, including the Abkhazs. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Government of Georgia to dissuade those people who have lost their faith in the perspective of peaceful resolution of the conflict.
We offer a special program for resolving the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia to all our political partners, the Security Council, the European bodies.
This program has to be implemented without delay, notwithstanding changes it may undergo, or substantial concessions it may require from the parties involved to reach the agreement and put the program into action.
For two years the document on distribution of constitutional competencies between Tbilisi and Sokhumi drafted by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General is being kept within the confines of the Group of Friends of the Secretary General. The document has to constitute basis for meaningful negotiations on the scope of the autonomy for Abkhazia.
The Government of Georgia is ready to grant Abkhazia the widest autonomy practiced around the world today.
Considerable international support is needed to restore the confidence between the parties as indicated in the Declaration of Yalta meeting that took place with assistance of brotherly Ukraine.
International guarantees are indispensable for ensuring implementation of the political agreement between the parties, the process of return of the IDP's and refugees to Abkhazia as well as their security. This is high time to agree on the mechanisms of implementation of these guarantees.
Let me stress again that we attach great importance and are anxious to begin discussing the economic rehabilitation strategy of the region, carrying out the projects beneficial for all as well as preserving unique Abkhaz people.
We must exert all efforts to put an end to the period when the separatist regimes were employed by other states as a lever of pressure on neighboring nations.
We support the Dialogue Among Civilizations, as the means of achieving better understanding between all the peoples of the world. We would be honored to host a forum dedicated to this cause. Being on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Georgia with its ancient multifaceted culture is an appropriate place for such a meeting.
In closing, let me stress again that it is the dialogue and cooperation that should determine the fate of the men-kind. For this purpose we need the UN of wide, coherent and determined capabilities.
Thank You Mr. President.