Situation in Abkhazia

Linked with our presentation of Irina Yanovskaya – Georgia.

Linked with our presentation of Journalists for Human Rights JHR.

Source Relief Web: United Nations Country Team in Georgia, January 31, 2006 – Situation in Abkhazia:

In early January, Situation has become tense in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone. Several armed robberies, kidnappings of local residents and a murder of ethnic Georgian took place in the predominately Georgian populated Gali district.

In response to the above situation, Georgian State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues Giorgi Khaindrava sent a letter to UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to Georgia Heidi Tagliavini and Maj.-Gen. Sergey Chaban, commander of the CIS peacekeeping forces deployed in the Abkhaz conflict zone, demanding that measures be taken to deploy UN police in the Gali district of breakaway Abkhazia.

On 20 January, The de-facto president of the self-declared republic of Abkhazia, Sergey Bagapsh, sent a letter to the president of the UN Security Council. Through it, the Abkhaz side praises the activities of the UNOMIG the CIS Collective Peacekeeping Force in the conflict zone and complains on the lack of progress due the Georgian side’s continued failures to comply with earlier agreements. An agreement on international security guarantees and non-resumption of hostilities is seen as chance for resumption of the talks and is expected to boost the process of IDP return to Gali District. The letter also touches upon the great importance to the opening of human rights offices anywhere in Abkhazia, including in Gali District, and the readiness to cooperate in this respect. Sergey Bagapsh asks the Security Council to consider the issue of Abkhaz representatives’ participation in a meeting of the UN Security Council, so that the council members could listen to their arguments and reach objective conclusions.

In light of the above events, on 24 January, the UN-mediated Georgian-Abkhaz talks over security issues were launched in the Gali district. State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues represented the Georgian side, while the Abkhaz delegation was led by de-facto Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba. The sides have signed a final protocol on the “High-level Meeting in Gali on Security Issues”. In addition, the meeting also featured issues on joint preventive measures concerning the Avian Influenza. The sides signed the “Gali Protocol on Bird Flu” envisaging collaboration on the relevant issues. In terms of security, it was agreed to step up bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the fight against crime in the conflict zone.

In particular, both sides agreed to appoint coordinators responsible for the following tasks: taking anti-criminal measures in a timely manner; opening criminal cases against people who commit criminal offences in the conflict zone and especially in Gali District; ensuring the timely exchange of operational information; working out joint actions and informing the media about these actions. UNOMIG pledged to work on a range of issues to assist the sides. By 1 February, the sides have compelled to present to UNOMIG a plan for additional checkpoints and telephone hotlines to be established in the conflict zone. It was agreed to hold similar meetings whenever necessary.

On 24 January the Abkhazian side declared about its readiness for a meeting to take place between Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and the de-facto president Sergey Bagapsh. Further discussion of this issue are expected to take place at the Georgian-Abkhaz meeting scheduled in Geneva on 2-3 February under the aegis of the UN.

On 27 January, Georgian President’s special envoy for the Georgia-Abkhazia talks, Irakli Alasania, participated in the UN Security Council session to discuss the Abkhazian issue. Irakli Alasania presented the special report on the current developments in Abkhazia and, considering new priorities of the UN high working group, introduced the new views and priorities of the Georgian government. During his speech, Alasania reaffirmed the commitment of the Georgian leadership to the new approaches of establishing links with the Abkhaz side and support to the establishment of favourable conditions for dignified and secure return of IDPs and refugees.

Mr. Alasania noted that the Georgian side observes alarming trends in de-facto leadership’s activities, and particularly stressed the deteriorating security and safety in the Gali district, including violations of human rights and threats to the lives of local population.

In his speech, Mr. Alasania mentioned some negative aspects of the CIS Peace Keeping Forces and the increasing mistrust of Georgian population towards their activities. He once again reiterated that the status of Abkhazia should be determined within the State of Georgia, and called upon all Member States not to spare efforts to find peaceful solution for the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia. Read more of this long article on ReliefWeb).

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