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UN: Resolution On Georgia-Abkhaz Peace Process Prompts Georgian Protest

United Nations, 31 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The UN Security Council has unanimously passed a resolution reaffirming its support for a year-old document to serve as the basis for peace talks between Georgia and separatist Abkhazia.

The council's action on 30 January once again calls on Abkhaz leaders to receive the UN-brokered document, which defines the status of Abkhazia within Georgia.

The resolution UN Resolution on Abkhazia also stresses the commitment of member states to the "sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia."

Yet despite these provisions, Georgia registered a protest with the Security Council yesterday. Georgia's UN ambassador, Revaz Adamia, sent a letter to the council challenging Russia's role as a mediator in the Georgia-Abkhaz conflict and urging the council to take decisive actions to restore the peace process.

Russia's UN mission did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Adamia had asked to address the council in the public session in which yesterday's vote was held. But he said he was informed by the current council president, French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, that the council had decided not to debate the resolution. It was one of four resolutions the council voted on in quick succession without debate.

Western members of the Security Council have said they do not want to complicate relations with Russia ahead of a key meeting of facilitators of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. That meeting is set for 19-20 February in Geneva and will include high-level representatives from Russia, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and Bulgaria.

But the Georgian ambassador has called a news conference for today at UN headquarters to give Georgia's reaction to the resolution. Adamia told RFE/RL that his government wanted a more robust message from the Security Council at a time when tensions over Abkhazia are worsening. An estimated 250,000 Georgians have been displaced from their homes since the conflict with Abkhazia erupted 10 years ago.

"The situation is rather tense in Georgia -- I mean, internally," Adamia said. "The people there, they don't care that there will be a meeting in Geneva or whatever. They are looking for the possibility to go to their homes. And nothing is happening. The situation is worsening."

Most members of the council group known as the Friends of the Secretary-General for Georgia had sought stronger language in the resolution calling for Abkhaz officials to comply with the peace document.

Diplomats said the Western states in the group also wanted to make reference to the latest developments that have worsened Georgian-Russian relations. But Russian officials refused to consider those references in the text.

Georgian officials have said they will not renew the mandate of the Russian-led peacekeepers in the border region with Abkhazia unless certain conditions are met. Georgia objects to the re-establishment of rail links between the Russian city of Sochi and the Abkhaz capital, Sukhum, without Georgian consent. It has also repeatedly called for Russia to cease issuing passports to residents of Abkhazia.

The UN Security Council resolution yesterday extended the mandate of the small UN observer mission in Georgia by six months. But the resolution said that mandate would be reviewed again unless there was a decision on the Russian-led peacekeeping force by 15 February.

UN peacekeepers rely on the Russian-led force for security in patrolling the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict zone.