Georgia-Abkhaz Peace Process Close’ To Standstill
GEORGIA-ABKHAZ PEACE PROCESS ‘PERILOUSLY CLOSE’ TO STANDSTILL, ANNAN REPORTS
New York, Oct 20 2004 12:00PM
Warning that the Georgia-Abkhaz peace process has come “perilously close” to a standstill, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged both sides to resume political contacts and to continue pursuing a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
“I remain deeply convinced that further progress in the peace process is possible only through participation of both sides in genuine negotiations,” Mr. Annan says in a report to the Security Council on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia.
He notes that while his Special Representative, Heidi Tagliavini, is still in close and frequent contact with both sides, they have not met at the political level since July, and even the regular working level contacts have been suspended.
The Secretary-General voices hope that after the October “elections,” the Abkhaz side “will muster the political will” to return to the UN-led peace process without preconditions and to seek solutions at the negotiating table.
As for the Georgian side, Mr. Annan urges it to maintain its commitment to pursuing settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia and other internal disputes exclusively by peaceful means.
The Secretary-General also stresses again the importance of security for personnel with the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), which was established in 1993 to verify compliance with the ceasefire agreement between the Government and the separatist authorities in Abkhazia. Its mandate has since been expanded to deal also with policing, human rights and humanitarian issues.
He urges both sides to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of criminal acts, including those responsible for the ambush of a UNOMIG bus in the Abkhaz capital of Sukhumi in September 1998, the shooting down of a UNOMIG helicopter in October 2001 and those involved in hostage-taking incidents.