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UN to pass resolution on UNOMIG by the weekend

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, February 12
UN Security Council officials have expressed confidence that the new resolution on prolonging the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) mandate for four more months will be adopted by the weekend. The UN Security Council held consultations on a draft resolution on Tuesday, however the document has yet to be adopted, with only three days remaining till the existing mandate expires on February 15.

“I am very confident that the formal adoption will take place before the end of the week,” Council President Yukio Takasu said on February 10. The Ambassador of Russia to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, also confirmed that the draft resolution was expected to pass by the end of the week.

The details of the draft document have not been officially divulged, however Takasu said the text was “good and balanced.” The Russian delegation has been pushing for consideration of the “new realities” on the ground after the August war in Georgia. Russian officials are demanding that UNOMIG is divided into two different missions, as Russia has recognized Georgia’s breakaway regions as ‘independent states.’

Meanwhile the Georgian Government has called on the UN to leave its current mandate in force. Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said on Tuesday that the top priority for Georgia is to prevent the passing of any resolution which includes a suggestion that Abkhazia is a recognized state. The Minister said the second priority would be to “keep the UN observers, in line with the first priority.” Russia has already blocked the extension of the OSCE mandate in Georgia by making the same demand, that separate missions in Tbilisi and Tskhinvali are established.

The foreign media has reported that the draft resolution does not mention Georgia by name and does not refer to the UN mission by its official name UNOMIG, just as in a previous resolution adopted in April 2008. According to French news agency AFP the draft document, which outlines the elements of the future UN presence in the region until June 15, 2009, supports “the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.”

Georgian officials have so far refrained from commenting on the draft resolution. The Georgian Minister for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili told The Messenger that he would avoid talking about the resolution until it was passed, because, as he said, there are only “versions” of what the text of the document due to be adopted says. Representatives of the Georgian opposition also seem to know little about the text. Tina Khidasheli from the Republican Party says she has no information, but that even if it is the same as the one adopted last April it will still “satisfy Russia”. “During recent times the UN has adopted resolutions that can be considered defeats for our diplomacy,” Khidasheli said. “There have been a lot of compromises made by our authorities,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon has released a new report warning about a possible deterioration of the situation in the region. “Although the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia 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,” the UN official website says. “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,” Ban Ki-moon stated, adding that “a further deterioration of the situation cannot be excluded.”

The Georgian Government fears that Russia might block the UN mission’s mandate in Georgia if its interests are not considered in the resolution. Political commentators also suggest that this is “highly probable.” Independent analyst Mamuka Areshidze said it is “absolutely possible” that Russia might block the UNOMIG mission. “I think it will be very difficult not to consider Russia’s interests and not to harm Georgia’s interests in this resolution. The draft might be “balanced,” as UN officials have called it, but the question is whether it will be effective,” Areshidze noted.