Secretary-General renews call for political solution to Georgian-Abkhaz conflict

While the resumption of the United Nations-led Georgian-Abkhaz peace process is encouraging, only "genuine commitment" by both sides will lead to a lasting political settlement to the hostilities between Government and separatist forces in northwest Georgia, which uprooted nearly 300,000 refugees more than a decade ago, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in his latest report.

"In pursuing both practical activities and a lasting solution to this conflict, the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) continues to play an important and relevant role in preventing the destabilization of the situation on the ground," he says, recommending a further six-month extension of the mandate of the 10-year-old UN mission until 31 January 2006.

Urging the Georgian side to be forthcoming in meeting Abkhaz security concerns, Mr. Annan also calls on the Abkhaz side to accept the deployment of the UN Mission's civilian police officers in the Gali district, to permit the opening of a human rights sub-office there, and to allow for the teaching of local youth in their native Georgian language.

He appeals to both sides to seize the newly-emerging opportunities for dialogue and to make the best use of the involvement of the international community, particularly after the resumption of UN-led peace talks that had been stalled for more than eight months, and the improving regional environment to achieve concrete progress in the agreed priority areas and related confidence-building measures.

"In this context, I encourage both sides to formally recommit to the non-resumption of hostilities and the peaceful settlement of the conflict, as well as ensuring the safe and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), at the first stage, to the Gali district," he adds.