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Annan Urges Russia & Georgia To Engage

Annan Encourages Russian Federation And Georgia To ‘Engage Constructively’

Welcoming the peaceful resolution of tensions resulting from the recent arrests of Russian officers in Georgia, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on all sides to come together and “engage constructively to address existing problems.”

Meanwhile his latest report on the Caucasus country speaks of new tensions in the long-running dispute between Georgian authorities and Abkhaz separatists stemming from an operation by Georgian special forces, and he warns that only dialogue can resolve differences.

“The Secretary-General is pleased that Georgia and the Russian Federation have been able to resolve the issue of the recent arrest of Russian officers in Georgia in a peaceful and constructive manner,” his Spokesman said in a statement, which also referred to the role played by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

“He appreciates the efforts undertaken by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, H.E. Mr. Karel de Gucht, to help bring about this result. The Secretary-General expresses the hope that all parties concerned will refrain from statements or actions that could affect stability in the region, and encourages them to engage constructively to address existing problems.”

Mr. Annan also urges dialogue between Georgian authorities and Abkhaz separatists in his latest report on the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) which oversees relations between the two sides that fought each other 14 years ago. He highlights the increased tension in the region and recommends that UNOMIG’s mandate be extended for another six months beyond its current deadline of 15 October.

“A new and tense situation has emerged between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides, in particular as a result of the Georgian special operation in the upper Kodori Valley [on 25 July]… There is no alternative, however, to dialogue; the threat of force can only deepen existing mistrust, and a resumption of violence would be the worst possible outcome.”

“The presence of UNOMIG remains essential for maintaining stability in the zone of conflict… I therefore recommend an extension of the mandate of UNOMIG for a further period of six months, until 15 April 2007.”

The conflict in Abkhazia, strategically located on the Black Sea, began with social unrest and attempts by the local authorities to separate from the Republic. It escalated into a series of armed confrontations in the summer of 1992. A ceasefire agreement was concluded later that year but never fully implemented and the fighting that followed forced nearly 300,000 refugees to flee their homes.

UNOMIG was set up in August 1993 and currently has 121 military observers and 12 civilian police officers.


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