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Progress In Georgia-Abkhaz Peace Process


Progress In Georgia-Abkhaz Peace Process

A United Nations-chaired meeting to review the peace process between Georgia and Abkhaz separatists today hailed progress made in political and security matters, refugee returns and economic cooperation despite the difficult situation on the ground.

In a statement to the press, the so-called Group of Friends of the Secretary-General – France, Germany, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States – meeting in Geneva said they were “encouraged” by the progress.

A senior Georgian delegation presented its position but the Abkhaz side declined an invitation to take part in the meeting, which was chaired by UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno and marked the third in the “Geneva Process.” The Friends reaffirmed the value of the meetings as a means to maintain momentum towards peace and agreed to meet again before the end of the year.

In his latest report to the Security Council last month Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that 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.' He appealed to them to abandon their "uncompromising position.”

The United Nations has maintained an observer mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) since 1994 after an accord reached in Moscow ended fighting that had forced nearly 300,000 refugees to flee.

On 30 January the Security Council extended UNOMIG’s mandate for another six months. Stressing the urgent need for progress on the question of refugees and internally displaced persons, the Council resolution called on both sides to display a genuine commitment to make returns the focus of special attention.

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