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Georgia: UN Mission Extended Through July


Georgia: Security Council Extends UN Mission Through July

The Security Council today unanimously extended the 10-year-old United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) through July after Secretary-General Kofi Annan reported that it was critical to maintaining stability along the ceasefire lines between Georgian and Abkhaz forces.

Stressing the urgent need for progress on the question of refugees and internally displaced persons, the Council resolution <"> http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/sc7993.doc.htm">called on both sides to display a genuine commitment to make returns the focus of special attention.

UNOMIG, which consists of some 115 military observers and a civilian component, was established in 1994 after an accord reached in Moscow ended fighting that had forced nearly 300,000 refugees to flee.

The Council welcomed the start of UNOMIG civilian police deployment in the Zugdidi district on the Georgian government side of the ceasefire lines and looked forward to an early confirmation by the Abkhaz side that deployment in the Gali district of the remaining police officers could proceed.

Deploring the deterioration in security in the Gali sector, including repeated killings and abductions, the resolution called in particular on the Abkhaz side to improve law enforcement involving the local population.

It recalled that the Abkhaz side bore a particular responsibility to protect the returnees and to facilitate the return of the remaining displaced people, reaffirming the unacceptability of demographic changes resulting from the conflict.

In his latest report to the Council Mr. Annan noted that two years after finalization of a paper on various competences, talks on Abkhazia's future political status within Georgia had still not started, with the Abkhaz side continuing to invoke its unilateral 1999 'declaration of independence' in refusing to receive the paper.

Today's resolution "deeply regretted" the continued refusal of the Abkhaz side to agree to a discussion on the substance of that document. It stressed negotiations leading to a lasting political settlement would require concessions from both sides.

Underlining the primary responsibility of both sides to provide appropriate security for UNOMIG and ensure freedom of movement for the Mission as well as the Commonwealth of Independent States peacekeeping force and other international staff, the Council strongly condemned the repeated abduction of personnel of those missions.

Deeply deploring the fact that none of the perpetrators have ever been identified or brought to justice, the Council urged the parties once again to bring to justice those responsible for shooting down a UNOMIG helicopter in 2001.

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