Thursday, 31 January 2008

Russian Peacekeepers Stay in Abkhazia

Kommersant, Jan. 31, 2008

The UN Security Council on Wednesday discussed the situation in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia. The Security Council did not even consider replacing Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zone but accepted Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili’s suggestion to overview a peacekeeping process.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a report shortly before the session to support an idea to overview the peacekeeping process in the conflict zone, which Mikhail Saakashvili proposed at the UN session last fall. The Georgian president also pressed then for the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from the zone to replace them with an EU contingent.

Mikhail Saakashvili, however, ditched his hard-line rhetoric after his win at the presidential election. In a news conference at the PACE in Strasbourg last week he said he was no longer considering the idea as valid.

The UN secretary general said in his report that all accusations against CIS peacekeepers proved to be wrong. He also said the resolution of the Kosovo issue may have an influence of developments in Abkhazia. “The Georgian government has made it clear several times that it will be considering the possibility of Russia’s recognizing Abkhazia differently depending to the results of the upcoming discussion of Kosovo’s status.”

Russia’s envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin followed a recent warming in relations with Georgia and praises “some positive statements” which were voiced in the country after the presidential election.
It is still, however, unclear when and how the peacekeeping process will be overviewed. In any case, the Security Council is meeting in April for a session on Georgia to adopt a resolution to prolong the UN presence in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone.

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