Extending UN mission in Georgia for six months, Security Council urges dialogue
Stressing the need for dialogue between the Government and Abkhaz sides in Georgia, where fighting 14 years ago drove nearly 300,000 people from their homes, the Security Council today extended the United Nations mission in the country for another 6 months until 15 October.
In a resolution adopted unanimously, the 15-member body also condemned the attack on villages in the upper Kodori valley on 11-12 March and urged all sides to fully support the ongoing investigation conducted by the Joint Fact Finding Group, which is led by the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG).
“The Security Council… decides to extend the mandate of UNOMIG for a new period terminating on 15 October 2007... [It] stresses that the situation on the ground in the areas of security, return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and rehabilitation and development must be improved and calls on both sides to resume dialogue,” the resolution states.
The Council “urges the sides to address seriously each other’s legitimate security concerns, to refrain from any actions which might impede the peace process, and to extend the necessary cooperation to UNOMIG and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) peacekeeping force.”
In his latest report on the work of the UN in Georgia, which was released last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last month’s rocket attacks in the upper Kodori valley were “a major setback”, but added there have been recent signs of progress between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides.
Mr. Ban cited the continued joint patrols of the valley by UNOMIG and the CIS peacekeeping force as one example of the progress being made, adding that the patrols had observed no heavy weapons and a reduction in the number of armed personnel since a similar patrol in October last year.
UNOMIG was set up in 1993 and expanded in 1994 to verify compliance with a cessation of hostilities and separation of forces accord, with patrols of the Kodori valley a specific part of its mandate. But it stopped patrolling the upper part of the valley in 2003 when four mission members were held hostage. Patrols were resumed after a break of three years last December.