Global perspective Human stories

Recent clash illustrates ongoing Georgian-Abkhaz tensions – Ban Ki-moon

Recent clash illustrates ongoing Georgian-Abkhaz tensions – Ban Ki-moon

A deadly clash last month between the Government and Abkhaz sides in Georgia underscores the need for both sides to abide by their agreements and to bring additional areas under international monitoring, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report.

Despite relative calm in recent months, the incident that occurred on 20 September is “the most serious incident involving the Georgian and Abkhaz sides in many years,” Mr. Ban writes in his latest report on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia.

He notes that the incident took place outside the area of responsibility of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping force. With the permission of both sides, UNOMIG is trying to clarify the circumstances.

In light of this recent clash, Mr. Ban recommends that areas between the zone of conflict and the Kodori Valley be put under international monitoring, with the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles and artillery radar.

At the same time, he stresses the need to “prevent the weakening of the ceasefire and separation of forces regime.”

“We will continue to insist on the obligation of both sides to keep their armed personnel clear from one another, observe the restrictions of the restricted-weapons zone and respect the agreed notification and verification procedures,” the Secretary-General writes.

He adds that the continued suspension and absence of security dialogue between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides, UNOMIG and the CIS peacekeeping force can only compound recent negative developments, such as the “dangerous stand-offs” that have occurred during the reporting period between the Georgian side and the CIS force.

In addition, Mr. Ban notes that while some progress was made between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides on technical and humanitarian issues, the gap between them on political dialogue remained.

“The overall approach to the settlement of the conflict remains that a successful dialogue on security, the return of internally displaced persons and refugees, economic rehabilitation and humanitarian issues would help bring about a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict,” he writes.

With the mandate of UNOMIG set to expire shortly, the Secretary-General recommends that it be extended for six months, as its presence continues to contribute to security in the conflict zone and international efforts to promote a peaceful settlement.

UNOMIG – currently comprising 133 military observers and 19 police officers – was established in August 1993 to verify compliance with the ceasefire agreement between the Government of Georgia and the Abkhaz authorities in Georgia. Its mandate was expanded following the signing by the parties of the 1994 Agreement on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces.