Statement for the press of the Georgian state minister's office on the conflict resolution Issues

At the meeting of the UN Secretary General's Group of Friends held on 12-13 February 2007, the Georgian side set forth proposals aimed at promoting confidence building between the sides, advancing peace negotiations and comprehensive political settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia.

Later, the Georgian side has on numerous occasions proposed to arrange a bilateral meeting with the Abkhaz side, without preconditions, in order to discuss the issues of security and return of IDPs/refugees that are of paramount importance to us. Despite our efforts, the Abkhaz side refuses to oganise this meeting as well as any other contacts which might allow discussion of the issues under review.

It is even more alarming when, according to the UNSC resolutions on Abkhazia, Georgia, it is necessary to start direct activities concerning the human rights issues and deployment of a UN civil police component in the Gali district. In this context, absence of a dialogue between the sides is completely unacceptable and we call upon the UN Secretary General's Group of Friends to immediately urge the Abkhaz side to engage in such a dialogue.

In addition, it has to be noted that artificial obstacles having emerged regarding the issues of security and return of IDPs/refugees have negatively affected other spheres too. In particular, for a number of months the Abkhaz side, while presenting no principle justifications, refuses to participate in the EC-financed rehabilitation programme for the conflict zone and, by using unjustified demands, impedes the work of the Steering Committee. This also shows a clearly expressed trend.

Against this background, on 17 May 2007, representatives of the Sukhumi regime disseminated alarming information related to the key problem of the return of IDPs/refugees. Namely, it was noted that a resolution titled "On Legal Status of Persons Who Left Abkhazia Due to Georgia's Aggressive War against Abkhazia in 1992-1993" is currently under consideration in the "parliament" of the Sukhumi regime. Actually, the main goal of the draft is to legitimise results of ethnic cleansing against predominantly Georgian population condemned by OSCE Summit Documents of Budapest (1994), Lisbon (1996) and Istanbul (1999) and, through preventive actions, to rule out the possibility of return of IDPs/refugees to the entire territory of Abkhazia - the obligation which has been on numerous occasions confirmed by the Sukhumi regime.

We have to remind that the Abkhaz side admitted the main principles and obligations for the return of IDPs/refugees both at bilateral and multilateral level, and that this issue has always been on the top of the peace process and a number of documents related to the conflict resolution issues, in particular: all the UNSC resolutions (from Resolution N876 of 19 October 1993 to Resolution N1752 of 13 April 2007); all agreements achieved by the Georgian and Abkhaz sides under the UN aegis; decisions on Abkhazia, Georgia adopted at the CIS summits; CIS PKF mandate on the peacekeeping operation in Abkhazia, Georgia (21 October 1994 and 26 May 1995); Moscow Quadrilateral Agreement on Voluntary Return of Refugees and IDPs of 4 April 1994; Moscow Agreement on Cease-Fire and Separation of Forces of 14 May 1994; Yalta Declaration of 2001 and, finally, agreements achieved within the Geneva format.

We have to stress once again that the manipulations of the Abkhaz side around the IDP/refugee-related issues, including the respective rhetoric of the Sukhumi regime's representatives, are nothing else but targeted attempts to declare null and void all agreements that have been reached from 1993 to the present day.

Based on the foregoing, we consider it necessary to urge the SRSG and the UN Secretary General's Group of Friends to undertake appropriate steps aimed at convening, as soon as possible, a "Geneva format" meeting in Geneva, in order to discuss, with direct participation of the sides in conflict, the possibilities and priorities for the continuation of the peace process. Among them, this is about a dialogue on the security issues; realisation of IDPs/refugees' right to voluntary return to the entire territory of Abkhazia; matters related to economic and humanitarian dimensions and economic rehabilitation of the region.

On its part, the Georgian side remains ready for the co-operation on the above issues with all the stakeholders and once again confirms its commitment to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia.