Washington, DC. The Georgian Association in the USA was dismayed by some of the provisions of the recent UN resolution on Georgia. On October 13th, 2006, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1716 which prolongs the mandate of UNOMIG (the United Nations Organization Mission in Georgia) in the Abkhazian region of Georgia. UNOMIG was set up in August 1993 following an agreement to end the armed secessionist conflict in Abkhazia and currently has 121 military observers and 12 civilian police officers in place, as well as nearly 300 civilian staff members.
The Georgian Association objects not to the extension of UNOMIG’s mission, which the Georgian government and the majority of the Georgian people support, but to the distorted information contained in the resolution. Furthermore, the US government’s participation in the drafting of the resolution suggests to us and the rest of the world that the US administration has shifted its policy towards tolerance for Russia’s de facto annexation of Georgian territory.
The resolution declares that the “new and tense situation” in Georgian-Abkhazian relations resulted “at least in part, from the Georgian special operation in the upper Kodori Valley”, a part of Abkhazia still under Georgian government control. In fact, the Georgian government reduced tensions in the Valley by its special operation which ended the lawless rule of Georgian bands there this July. Since October, the Georgian government has permitted Russian dominated CIS peacekeeping troops to monitor the situation in the Upper Kodori Valley. Such monitoring was not possible before the Georgian operation. The one-sidedness of UNSC resolution 1716 is reflected in its condemnation of the Georgian government for “militant rhetoric and provocative actions” and its praise for the CIS peacekeeping troops and their “stabilizing role.” In reality, the CIS peacekeepers have proved completely ineffective at protecting the local Georgian population and have regularly participated in anti-Georgian actions in Gali and other regions of Abkhazia. This is why the Georgian government is asking for the replacement of CIS peacekeepers with an international force.
This resolution is a step backwards and a disappointment to the Georgian people who have come to expect US government support for its attempt to protect Georgia’s sovereign rights and its citizens in the territory of Abkhazia. This resolution comes at a time when the Russian government is persecuting Georgian citizens and Russian citizens of Georgian origin in Russian cities following the Georgian government’s arrest – and later return – of Russian spies this October. This anti-Georgian campaign orchestrated by the Russian government has led to the closure of Georgian businesses in Russia, the illegal and often forced entry into Georgian homes by Russian officials, pressure on the Russian Ministry of Education to supply information on Georgian pupils, and the forced deportation of Georgians. It is a dangerous policy of cleansing that reflects the anti-democratic and authoritarian policies of the Russian government. US support of UNSC resolution 1716 condones Russian de facto annexations abroad and ignores Russian discriminatory policies at home.