United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged both Georgia’s Government and Abkhaz separatists to implement understandings reached during a high-level meeting in February and to honour previous commitments, particularly regarding security and human rights, to resolve a conflict that flared into open warfare 14 years ago and forced nearly 300,000 refugees to flee their homes.
Mr. Annan, in his latest report to the Security Council, also repeated calls for both sides to ensure the safety and security of staff belonging to the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), including by identifying and bringing to justice perpetrators of criminal acts, such as the shooting down of a UN helicopter in the Kodori Valley in October 2001.
“I urge the sides to implement the understandings reached during the February 2006 Geneva meeting of the Group of Friends, in particular regarding a meeting of the Georgian and Abkhaz sides at the highest level without preconditions and the early finalization of the set of documents on the non-use of force and the return of internally displaced persons and refugees.”
“At the same time, it is essential that both sides honour their previous commitments in an expeditious way – in particular, for the Georgian side to address the legitimate security concerns of the Abkhaz side, and for the Abkhaz side to allow the opening of a human rights sub-office in Gali and the teaching of local youth in the Georgian language, and to accept the deployment of UNOMIG police officers in the Gali district.”
During this latest reporting period, covering the period from 17 March to 26 June, Mr. Annan said the security situation in the conflict zone had remained “generally calm,” although he highlighted two violations of the 1994 Moscow Agreement, including one incident last month involving the use of mortars.
The UN chaired February’s talks on Georgia during which the so-called Group of Friends of the Secretary-General – Germany, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States – underlined that the basis of their efforts was the settlement of the conflict by peaceful means and in the framework of relevant Security Council resolutions.
The conflict in Abkhazia, strategically located on the Black Sea, began with social unrest and the 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.