Unlike the tensions that characterized much of the last two years, the past few months have witnessed a relatively stable security situation along the ceasefire line between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides, which could contribute to improving relations between the parties, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report.
"The high tensions that characterized much of 2006 and 2007 have not served the interest of the peace process. Quite the contrary, they have contributed to further narrowing the opportunities for a dialogue already undercut by deep mutual suspicions," Mr. Ban writes in his latest report to the Security Council.
He says "a period of sustained stability along the ceasefire line and in the Kodori Valley would improve the prospect of repairing the much deteriorated relationship between the two sides."
Despite the efforts of Mr. Ban's Special Representative, Jean Arnault, the negotiation process remains suspended, given the Abkhaz side's insistence on the withdrawal of Georgian armed personnel from the upper Kodori Valley as a precondition for the resumption of negotiations with the Georgian side, the report states.
At its February meeting in Geneva, the Secretary-General's Group of Friends called for the resumption of security meetings between the sides, the UN mission (UNOMIG) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping force. The Group also expressed its disappointment at the lack of progress in implementing the proposals it had set out last year to boost confidence between the parties.
"At the same time, the Friends noted the fact that there appeared to be common ground with regard to the necessity, after one year of escalating mistrust, to focus on the gradual restoration of a working relationship between the sides across a range of issues," states the report.
The Secretary-General too calls on the sides to implement the confidence-building measures, noting that "small steps and partial successes are essential to the sustainability of protracted peace processes, and the Georgian-Abkhaz process certainly qualifies as such."
Mr. Ban also welcomes the dialogue between the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the CIS peacekeeping force and UNOMIG, which has been taking place regularly on the Zugdidi side of the ceasefire line, and hopes that the regular meetings on security issues involving the Georgian and Abkhaz sides will soon follow.
In light of the present situation and the important role UNOMIG plays in promoting stability in the zone of conflict, practical cooperation between the sides and the restoration of dialogue, the Secretary-General recommends that its mandate be extended for another six months, until 15 October.