Global perspective Human stories

Annan stresses non-use of force in Georgia; calls for UN mission to be extended

Annan stresses non-use of force in Georgia; calls for UN mission to be extended

Emphasizing the need for agreements on the non-use of force and the return of internally displaced people in the conflict between the Government of Georgia and Abkhaz separatists, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for the UN mission in the Caucasian country to be extended for six months until 30 September.

In his latest report to the Security Council, Mr. Annan stresses the need for both sides to build on February’s UN-chaired talks in Geneva, which involved Germany, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States and which called for among other things, confidence-building measures.

“It is essential that the Georgian and Abkhaz sides actively follow up on the understandings reached at the Geneva meeting of the Group of Friends, in particular, early finalization of the documents on the non-use of force and on the return of internally displaced persons and refugees.”

“Moreover, a substantive meeting between their highest leaders would be a major confidence building measure and a welcome step forward,” Mr. Annan said, adding that while the military situation in the conflict zone remained “generally calm” during the reporting period, the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) was still needed.

“I therefore recommend that the Mission’s mandate be extended for six months, until 30 September 2006. I urge the parties to ensure the security and freedom of movement of all UNOMG personnel and, as a matter of priority, bring the perpetrators of criminal acts against the Mission to justice.”

Last month, a senior official with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) met with a joint Georgian-Abkhazian delegation in talks aimed at assisting the 220,000 internally displaced persons in Georgia and about 50,000 people who have returned to the Gali District.

The conflict in Abkhazia, strategically located on the Black Sea, began with social unrest and attempts by the local authorities to separate from the Republic. It escalated into a series of armed confrontations in the summer of 1992. A ceasefire agreement was concluded later that year but never fully implemented. Fighting which followed forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee.

Diplomacy by the Secretary-General's envoy helped to secure another peace agreement, paving the way for the establishment of UNOMIG. Fighting later resumed, sending hundreds of thousands of civilians, mostly Georgians, fleeing their homes. Subsequent talks led to the deployment of a peacekeeping force of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as well as the strengthening of UNOMIG, whose mandate is due to expire at the end of this month.