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Security Council concerned at tension in Georgia but also notes positive moves

Security Council concerned at tension in Georgia but also notes positive moves

Security Council President Amb. Vitaly Churkin
The Security Council today expressed unease at the continuing tension between Abkhaz separatists and Georgian authorities but said there were also some positive developments in recent months, namely the resumption of joint United Nations patrols in the Kodori Valley in December after a break of three years.

The 15-member body was briefed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Georgia, Jean Arnault, and also discussed the latest report on the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), which was issued last week.

“Along with concern at some of the aspects of the continuing tense situation in the region, members of the Council have also expressed satisfaction at some developments,” Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency this month, told reporters after the meeting.

“Especially important is that finally the UN monitoring presence there and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) peacekeeping presence have been able to resume their periodic joint monitoring of the situation in the Upper Kodori Valley.”

UNOMIG patrolled the lower and upper parts of the valley from 13-16 December with members of the CIS peacekeeping forces, after breaking off its patrols in June 2003 when UN military observers were taken hostage. The Mission has said the resumption should de-escalate tensions in the region, where fighting between the Government and separatists 14 years ago forced nearly 300,000 refugees to flee their homes.

However, in his report to the Council last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that recent violence could escalate as he urged all sides to “engage in dialogue,” saying there must be negotiations.

“I continue to believe that there can be no lasting settlement without a determined effort by both sides to seek, through genuine negotiations and in deeds, to establish a different kind of relationship between them,” he added, while reaffirming the readiness of UNOMIG to assist in bringing the two sides together.

The report, dated 11 January and covering the previous three months, highlights in particular the killings of three members of the Abkhaz militia on 25 and 26 December 2005, and also an attack on a Georgian checkpoint on 5 January that killed one policeman and wounded another.