UN's Ban Ki-moon disappointed in pace of Georgia-Abkhaz dialogue
( RIA Novosti ) - Hopes for the speedy resumption of a dialogue between Georgia and its breakaway republic of Abkhazia have once again been frustrated, the UN Secretary General has said in a report.
Ban Ki-moon said that both sides were remiss and needed to take active measures to implement understandings reached last month in Bonn at a meeting hosted by the so-called Group of Friends, comprising France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S., as well as the Georgian and Abkhaz sides and the Secretary General's special representative for Georgia, Jean Arnault.
"In spite of the expectations raised by the high-level meeting of the Group of Friends chaired by the United Nations and held on 12 and 13 February at Geneva, dialogue between the sides remained suspended during the period under review," he said.
Ban Ki-moon noted that the Abkhaz side continued to link the resumption of dialogue to preconditions deemed unacceptable to the Georgian side, such as the immediate withdrawal of Georgian troops and the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia from the disputed upper Kodori Gorge.
In addition, he said, both sides differed in their interpretation of the recently passed Security Council Resolution 1752, which the Georgian side welcomed as confirmation of its adherence to UN recommendations on Kodori, while the Abkaz side insisted that Georgia remained in breach of the 1994 Agreement on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces.
The Secretary General said that while the situation along the ceasefire line between the two conflicting sides remained quiet if tense, a particular source of unease was the continued presence of a Georgian patriotic youth camp in Ganmukhuri, whose location in a sensitive area increased the risk of accidental conflict and bloodshed.
He said the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) had recently detected heightened activity around the camp, and he called on Georgia to move it away from the security zone in order to avoid any potential misunderstandings from spiraling out of control.
Ban Ki-moon noted that the separation of opposing forces was the primary and most effective guarantee that peace would be preserved.
The region has been embroiled in a protracted conflict for 14 years since Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia, and nearly 300,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in that time. Tbilisi has vowed to bring the secessionist province back under its control.
UNOMIG was established in August 1993 to verify compliance with the ceasefire agreement that ended bloody fighting, and has maintained a presence in the region between the opposing sides ever since.
In April, a unanimous Security Council resolution voted to extend UNOMIG's mandate for another six months, until October.