31 January 2005
Security Council Extends Georgia Mission until 31 July 2005, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 1582 (2005)
NEW YORK, 28 January (UN Headquarters) -- Deeming unacceptable the continued lack of progress on a comprehensive settlement of the Abkhazia, Georgia, conflict, the Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) until 31 July, subject to review in the event of changes in the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS peacekeeping force).
Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1582 (2005), the Council, deploring that the perpetrators of the shooting down of an UNOMIG helicopter on 8 October 2001, resulting in the death of nine people on board, still had not been identified, called on the parties, once again, to take all necessary steps to identify the perpetrators, bring them to justice, and inform the Special Representative of the steps taken in the criminal investigation.
The Council also strongly condemned the repeated abductions of personnel of UNOMIG, CIS peacekeeping force and other international personnel in the past, and deeply deplored that none of the perpetrators had ever been identified or brought to justice. It reiterated that it was the responsibility of the parties to end that impunity, and it called on them to act.
The Council, meanwhile, reiterated its strong support for the document on Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi and its transmittal letter finalized by all members of the Group of Friends, but deeply regretted the continued refusal of the Abkhaz side to agree to a discussion on the substance of that document.
In that connection, the Council strongly urged the Abkhaz side to receive the document and its transmittal letter. It urged both parties to give them full and open consideration, and to engage in constructive talks on their substance. It urged those having influence with the parties to promote that outcome.
The Council also regretted the lack of progress on the initiation of political status negotiations and recalled that the purpose of those documents was to facilitate meaningful negotiations between the parties, under United Nations leadership, on the status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia, and was not an attempt to impose or dictate any specific solution to the parties.
It called on both sides to participate in constructive negotiations towards a political settlement and to spare no efforts to overcome their ongoing mistrust, and it underlined that the negotiation process leading to a lasting political settlement acceptable to both sides would require concessions from both sides. It reminded all concerned to refrain from any action that might impede the peace process.
Under a related provision, the Council stressed the urgent need for progress on the question of the refugees and internally displaced persons, and reaffirmed the unacceptability of the demographic changes resulting from the conflict. It also reaffirmed the inalienable right of all such persons affected by the conflict to return to their homes in secure and dignified conditions.
The meeting began at 11:02 a.m. and was adjourned at 11:06 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1582 (2005) reads, as follows:
The Security Council,
Recalling all its relevant resolutions, in particular resolution 1554 of 29 July 2004 (S/RES/1554),
Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 17 January 2005,
Recalling the conclusions of the Lisbon (S/1997/57, annex) and Istanbul summits of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) regarding the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia,
Recalling the relevant principles contained in the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel adopted on 9 December 1994,
Deploring that the perpetrators of the shooting down of a helicopter of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) on 8 October 2001, which resulted in the death of nine people on board, have still not been identified,
Stressing that the continued lack of progress on key issues of a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia, is unacceptable,
Welcoming, however, the positive momentum given to the United Nations-led peace process by regular high level meetings of the Group of Friends in Geneva and the Georgian-Russian summit meetings,
Welcoming the important contributions made by UNOMIG and the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS peacekeeping force) in stabilizing the situation in the zone of conflict, and stressing its attachment to the close cooperation existing between them in the performance of their respective mandates,
1. Reaffirms the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, and the necessity to define the status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia in strict accordance with these principles;
2. Commends and strongly supports the sustained efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, with the assistance of the Russian Federation in its capacity as facilitator as well as of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General and of the OSCE, to promote the stabilization of the situation and the achievement of a comprehensive political settlement, which must include a settlement of the political status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia;
3. Reiterates its strong support for the document on Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi and for its letter of transmittal, finalized by, and with the full support of, all members of the Group of Friends;
4. Deeply regrets the continued refusal of the Abkhaz side to agree to a discussion on the substance of this document, again strongly urges the Abkhaz side to receive the document and its transmittal letter, urges both parties thereafter to give them full and open consideration, and to engage in constructive negotiations on their substance, and urges those having influence with the parties to promote this outcome;
5. Regrets also the lack of progress on the initiation of political status negotiations, and recalls, once again, that the purpose of these documents is to facilitate meaningful negotiations between the parties, under the leadership of the United Nations, on the status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia, and is not an attempt to impose or dictate any specific solution to the parties;
6. Notes its position on Abkhaz elections as expressed in resolution 1255 of 30 July 1999 (S/RES/1255);
7. Calls on both sides to participate in constructive negotiations towards a political settlement of the conflict and to spare no efforts to overcome their ongoing mutual mistrust and underlines that the process of negotiation leading to a lasting political settlement acceptable to both sides will require concessions from both sides;
8. Welcomes the commitment by the Georgian side to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and calls on both parties further to publicly dissociate themselves from all militant rhetoric and demonstrations of support for military options;
9. Reminds all concerned to refrain from any action that might impede the peace process;
10. Welcomes the convening of regular meetings of senior representatives of the Group of Friends and the United Nations in Geneva and encourages both sides to participate actively in the next meeting;
11. Urges the parties to participate in a more active, regular and structured manner in the task forces established in the first Geneva meeting (to address issues in the priority areas of economic cooperation, the return of internally displaced persons and refugees, and political and security matters) and complemented by the working groups established in Sochi in March 2003, and reiterates that results-oriented activities in these three priority areas remain key to building common ground between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides and ultimately for concluding meaningful negotiations on a comprehensive political settlement based on the paper entitled Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi and its transmittal letter;
12. Encourages the sides in that respect to continue their discussion on security guarantees with the participation of the Group of Friends;
13. Calls again on the parties to take concrete steps to revitalize the peace process in all its major aspects, including their work in the Coordinating Council and its relevant mechanisms, to build on the results of the Yalta meeting on confidence-building measures in March 2001 (S/2001/242) and to implement the proposals agreed on that occasion in a purposeful and cooperative manner, with a view to holding a fourth conference on confidence-building measures, and welcomes the intention expressed by Germany to host such a conference pending progress in the conflict resolution process;
14. Notes that contacts at the level of civil society can reinforce mutual confidence and calls on both sides to facilitate such contacts;
15. Stresses the urgent need for progress on the question of the refugees and internally displaced persons, calls on both sides to display a genuine commitment to make returns the focus of special attention and to undertake this task in close coordination with UNOMIG and consultations with UNHCR and the Group of Friends;
16. Calls for the rapid finalization and signature of the letter of intent on returns proposed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and welcomes the meetings with the participation of the SRSG and UNHCR of the Sochi working group on refugees and internally displaced persons;
17. Reaffirms the unacceptability of the demographic changes resulting from the conflict, reaffirms also the inalienable right of all refugees and internally displaced persons affected by the conflict to return to their homes in secure and dignified conditions, in accordance with international law and as set out in the Quadripartite Agreement of 4 April 1994 (S/1994/397, annex II) and the Yalta Declaration;]
18. Recalls that the Abkhaz side bears a particular responsibility to protect the returnees and to facilitate the return of the remaining displaced population;
19. Welcomes the continuing activities of UNDP in the Gali, Ochamchira and Tkvarcheli districts and the opening of offices by UNDP in Sukhumi and Gali;
20. Urges the parties once again to implement the recommendations of the Joint Assessment Mission to the Gali sector (November 2000), regrets that there has been no progress to that effect despite the positive consideration by the parties given to those recommendations in the first Geneva meeting and calls again upon the Abkhaz side to agree to the opening as soon as possible of the Gali branch of the human rights office in Sukhumi and to provide security conditions for its unhindered functioning;
21. Reiterates its concern that despite the start of the deployment of a civilian police component as part of UNOMIG, as endorsed in resolution 1494 (2003) and agreed by the parties, the deployment of the remaining officers in the Gali sector is still outstanding and calls on the Abkhaz side to allow for a swift deployment of the police component in that region;
22. Calls in particular on the Abkhaz side to improve law enforcement involving the local population and to address the lack of instruction in their mother tongue for the ethnic Georgian population;
23. Welcomes the measures taken by the Georgian side to put an end to the activities of illegal armed groups and encourages the maintenance of these efforts;
24. Condemns any violations of the provisions of the Moscow Agreement of 14 May 1994 on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces (S/1994/583, annex I);
25. Welcomes the continuing relative calm in the Kodori valley, condemns the killings and abductions of civilians in the Gali district;
26. Urges the parties to abide by the provisions of the protocols on security issues in the Gali district signed on 19 January 2004 and 8 October 2003, to continue their regular meetings and to cooperate more closely with each other to improve security in the Gali sector, and takes note of the resumption of Abkhaz participation in the Quadripartite meetings and the Joint Fact Finding Group;
27. Reiterates its call on the Georgian side to provide comprehensive security guarantees to allow for independent and regular monitoring of the situation in the upper Kodori valley by joint UNOMIG and CIS peacekeeping force patrols;
28. Underlines that it is the primary responsibility of both sides to provide appropriate security and to ensure the freedom of movement of UNOMIG, the CIS peacekeeping force and other international personnel;
29. Strongly condemns in that respect the repeated abductions of personnel of those missions in the past, deeply deplores that none of the perpetrators have ever been identified or brought to justice, reiterates that it is the responsibility of the parties to end this impunity and calls upon them to take action;
30. Also calls upon the parties, once again, to take all necessary steps, to identify those responsible for the shooting down of a UNOMIG helicopter on 8 October 2001, to bring them to justice, and to inform the SRSG of the steps taken in particular in the criminal investigation;
31. Decides to extend the mandate of UNOMIG for a new period terminating on 31 July 2005, subject to a review as appropriate of its mandate by the Council in the event of changes in the mandate of the CIS peacekeeping force;
32. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to keep the Council regularly informed and to report three months from the date of the adoption of this resolution on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia;
33. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.
When the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, it had before it the latest report of the Secretary-General, dated 17 January (document S/2005/32), in which the Secretary-General, convinced that the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) continues to play a key role in preventing instability on the ground and in promoting a political settlement of the conflict, recommends that the Missions mandate be extended to a new period of six months, until 31 July.
The report states that 2004, particularly the second half of the year, was not an easy one for the Georgian-Abkhaz peace process. While the parties came together during the course of the year on some substantive issues, efforts to advance a dialogue encountered serious challenges. Renewed tension in the zone of conflict led to a chain of events that brought all contacts between the sides to a halt by mid-year and, over the past five months, the Missions main efforts have focused on finding ways to re-establish the dialogue and avoid regression.
The recent political uncertainty in Sukhumi seriously limited the possibility of continued dialogue, the report says. However, the high-level meeting of the Group of Friends, which took place on 13 and 14 December in Geneva, was a timely opportunity to reflect on the overall state of the peace process and to discuss how best to address the challenges to the pursuit of a lasting and comprehensive solution to the conflict, which should be based on the relevant Security Council resolutions and should ultimately address the core issue of the conflict -- the political status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia. The support of the Group of Friends remains invaluable for the efforts of the Secretary-Generals Special Representative and is much appreciated.
Maintenance of stability and resumption of dialogue between the parties remain key to achieving progress towards a settlement, the report further states. Hopefully, the political situation in Sukhumi will stabilize shortly and dialogue in the established priority areas -- economic cooperation, the return of refugees and internally displaced persons and political and security matters -- will resume and be underpinned by relevant confidence-building measures. The Abkhaz side should continue to ensure that UNOMIG is able to continue to fulfil its mandated tasks unhampered. Freedom of movement, including entry and exit, for United Nations personnel must be respected by all sides.
The report says that the security of United Nations personnel remains a major concern. The Secretary-General urges both sides to ensure the safety of UNOMIG at all times and to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of criminal acts, including those responsible for the ambush of a UNOMIG bus in Sukhumi in September 1998, the shooting down of a UNOMIG helicopter in the Kodori Valley in October 2001, and the various hostage-taking incidents. Resumption of regular patrolling in the Kodori Valley remains an essential part of the UNOMIG mandate and its implementation will be facilitated by effective action and cooperation between the sides on security-related matters.
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