Georgia UN mission in precarious position says Ban

Georgia UN mission in precarious position says Ban

Although the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) continues patrolling on both sides of the ceasefire line between the Government and Abkhaz separatists in the country’s north-west, it is in a “precarious” position which could quickly become untenable, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in a new report to the Security Council.Referring to a 1994 pact between the warring sides, Mr. Ban says that “the status of the Moscow Agreement, which provided the basis for its mandate and the ceasefire regime, is, at best, no longer clear.”UNOMIG’s area of responsibility in Abkhazia consists of a security zone, where no military presence is permitted, a restricted weapons zone, where no heavy weapons can be introduced, and the Kodori Valley. It has no jurisdiction in nearby South Ossetia, the scene of fighting last August which pitted Georgia against separatists and their Russian allies.Since the Mission’s mandate was extended last October, the overall security situation in the area it is responsible for has remained tense, the report, made public today, notes.“There have been a considerable number of security incidents involving casualties on both sides and what little communication there was between the sides has largely broken down,” the Secretary-General says.He also cautions that “a further deterioration of the situation cannot be excluded.”On the Abkhaz-controlled side of the ceasefire line, Russian troops have taken over positions previously held by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping forces, on which UNOMIG relied for security. Abkhaz heavy weapons and military personnel have entered the zone of conflict.Meanwhile, Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs personnel have set up new positions and deployed armoured vehicles in the security zone.Both the security and operation of UNOMIG depend on the “goodwill of the sides,” Mr. Ban states. “While I continue to believe that the Mission contributes to the stabilization of the situation, as a result of these developments, its position has become precarious and could rapidly become unsustainable.”Talks in Geneva – co-chaired by the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the UN – have yet to yield tangible results, he said, calling on the parties to step up their efforts to agree on security and other issues.The parties have both said they support a continued UN presence, but take different positions on the scope of UNOMIG’s mandate. “Despite these divergences, I believe that it is still possible for the parties to agree on key elements of a security regime and on a United Nations role in support of its implementation,” the Secretary-General says. 5 February 2009Although the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) continues patrolling on both sides of the ceasefire line between the Government and Abkhaz separatists in the country’s north-west, it is in a “precarious” position which could quickly become untenable, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in a new report to the Security Council.

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