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UN clarifies news released in Abkhazian media

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, March 17
Abkhazian media sources misinterpreted the United Nations position and the details of the financial aid the region is going to receive from the international community.

Head of the United Nations in Georgia, Niels Scott, who recently visited Sokhumi, had to release an official statement and make some clarifications regarding the UN programs in Abkhazia. The UN had to clarify that Abkhazia will receive international financial aid as a part of the UN’s work in Georgia and that the region is considered by the organization as an inseparable part of Georgia.

According to some Abkhazian media outlets at the meeting with de-facto President Aleksander Ankvab, Scott said the UN is ready to implement projects worth $15 million in Abkhazia, but the financial aid could increase if the Abkhaz authorities directly appeal to the donor countries of the UN and persuade them in the need for investing in Abkhazia.

However, Scott explained in his statement that all UN programs are implemented in close coordination with all relevant partners and stakeholders, including the Government of Georgia and the international donor community.

"The United Nations continues working in Abkhazia and the adjacent areas to address the most critical needs of the people. This includes the rehabilitation of social infrastructure, such as schools and medical facilities; healthcare programs, including vaccinations and HIV/AIDS prevention; and the assistance to the displaced,” the statement says.

State Minister for Reconciliation and Civil Equality of Georgia, Paata Zakareishvili, said the UN regularly carries out projects in Abkhazia as well as on the integral territory of Georgia each year in cooperation with the Georgian government. According to the State Minister, UN activity in the occupied region is highly welcomed by the government.

"The UN recognizes the territorial integrity of Georgia and constantly confirms its position by its resolutions…We want European and Western values to be offered to the Abkhazian population. Therefore, we believe that UN involvement is an activity that helps in this direction. The Georgian government is regularly informed about the projects carried out by the UN in Abkhazia," Zakareishvili said.

UN financial aid in Abkhazia was discussed at the meeting between Scott and the Deputy Foreign Minister, Davit Zalkaniani. Zalkaniani gave a positive assessment to the UN activity in Georgia, including the occupied region of Abkhazia, aiming at rendering assistance to the local population and improving their condition.

“First of all, I would like to emphasize that all the projects that are going on in Sokhumi have been coordinated with the Georgian government,” Zalkaniani said after the meeting.

Scott said after the meeting that UN representation in Georgia was quite upset by the misinterpretation of the information in Abkhazian media. He explained that UN is not going to start brand new projects in Abkhzaia. “It is the same assistance we have been deliver for many years,“ UN representative said.

According to the head of UN in Georgia, he had a very general discussion with the government of Abkhazia, in particular, what kind of aid can the international society provide to the local people, especially for the rehabilitation of social infrastructure, schools and medical facilities, as well as financing healthcare programs, including vaccination and HIV/AIDS prevention, and assistance to people who are displaced.

The sides agreed that it is important to strengthen implementation of humanitarian projects in the occupied region.