The Press and Information Department of the Georgian Foreign Ministry issued official commentary in connection with the Russias requirement on conduct of monitoring in the Kodor gauge (a region of Abkhazia under Georgias official control) with the participation of Russian peacemakers, Trend special correspondent in Georgia reports.
It is for the first time in the last three years that, thanks to the restoration of order in the Kodori gorge, UN monitors are given the necessary prerequisites for conducting UN monitoring in the region, for which Georgia will be ready in the nearest future, the statement reads, the document underlies.
Simultaneously, monitoring should be carried out in the lower Kodori gorge as well, and it is the Moscow Agreement of 14 May, 1994 that entitles the Georgian side to claim such monitoring, since this document refers to the whole of the Kodori gorge. Here we would like to remind the Russian side that the Kodori gorge does not come within the security zone and therefore, any movement of peacekeepers throughout this territory should be coordinated with the Georgian side (2.6. paragraph of the Moscow Agreement). It follows that the Georgian side has a solid legal basis to accept UN monitoring and deny or grant this right to Russian peacekeepers at its own discretion.
The involvement of the collective peacekeeping forces in the gorge monitoring process, aside from purely legal aspects, is absolutely unacceptable out of moral and practical considerations as well, given the distrust for the so-called peacekeepers that runs deep in Georgia as a whole, and in particular, among the ethnically Georgian population of Abkhazia.
It should not be forgotten that during the tenure of the Russian peacekeepers, over two thousand civilians died in the Gali district. The Kodori inhabitants still have a strong memory of the landing of troops in spring 2002, whose designs to assault the gorge were undercut thanks to the Georgian Governments adequate measures. The appearance of the so-called peacekeepers may cause upset among the population in the Kodori gorge, since they, due to their deeds, are reputed to be aggressors and supporters of the separatist regime.
It also needs to be underlined that the documents regulating the mandate of peacekeepers, their deployment and activity on the territory of Georgia, which are signed within the frames of CIS, including by the Russian Federation, stipulate that the primary task of the peacekeeping forces is to maintain neutral and unbiased position, create conditions for the safe and dignified return of refugees and promote the principles of international humanitarian law and human rights (Agreement of 20 March, 1992 and Protocol of 15 May providing for the establishment of the CIS peacekeeping forces and defining their rights and obligations; Decision of 22 August, 1994 on the deployment of the collective peacekeeping forces in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone; Decision of 21 October, 1994 on the approval of peace operation mandate in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone).
The failure to comply with these obligations in the course of the past decade affords us a valid reason to claim modification of the existing format of peace operation and negotiations.
We call upon the Russian side to read carefully the existing legislative basis and refrain from a selective use of quotations and interpretations while commenting on the situation in the conflict regions.