Georgia’s President called today for a complete review of the United Nations observer mission in his country and the wider peace process with the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, saying the status quo was unacceptable and served to reward the architects of ethnic cleansing and a minority of activists, militias and their foreign supporters.
In his address to the annual high-level debate of the General Assembly, Mikheil Saakashvili said there had not been “a comprehensive review of all aspects of the peace process” in the 14 years since the UN mission, known as UNOMIG, was established.
“United Nations has tried to bring peace to this region, but it has not succeeded in making Georgia whole again, despite its unwavering recognition of Georgian sovereignty,” he said. “We cannot allow this to continue.”
Mr. Saakashvili said the review “must result in fundamental changes,” particularly on the ground, where the actions of “supposedly neutral” monitors were actually biased and served to maintain the status quo.
Thousands of people were forced out of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he said, and to the detriment of those regions.
The Georgian leader outlined the details of a proposal that he said offered “the alternative of security and prosperity to those who have been poisoned by the separatist illusion” in the two regions.
Any plan to advance the peace process and end the current stalemate must focus on economic development and the return of displaced persons, he stressed.
“We offer and recognize the right of full self-government for all those who live in Abkhazia and South Ossetia with our sovereignty, territorial borders und international guarantees. We offer constitutional changes to enshrine the protection of minorities, including language rights, the protection of culture and education.
“And we are even willing to offer special property rights to all interested groups in order to enhance their identity to guarantee and secure that their long-term survival will be secure and guaranteed by the state and the international community. And we offer and welcome a robust role for the European Union and more engagement of the EU on the ground.
“In short, we offer a level of autonomy grounded in the very same principles that has guided the rest of Europe in promoting peace, prosperity in its multi-ethnic tapestry.”
He said continued ignorance of ethnic cleansing was “a stain of the moral copybook of the international community. These disputes are no longer about ethnic grievance. They are about the manipulation of greed by a tiny minority of activists and militants and militias and their foreign backers at the expense of the local population.”
The President asked why “elements of Russia” were building a new military base in South Ossetia, “in the middle of Georgia… very far from the Russian territory,” adding that he had documentary evidence to support his remarks.