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Security Council to Prolong UN Observers Mandate
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 11 Feb.'09 / 11:12

UN Security Council is expected to pass French-introduced draft resolution on continued presence of UN observers in Georgia for next four months, UN diplomats said on February 10.
“I am very confident that the formal adoption will be taking place before the end of the week,” Japanese UN ambassador, Yukio Takasu, who holds the Council’s presidency for this month, said on February 10.

He also said that the France introduced the draft on behalf of UN Secretary General’s Group of Friends on Georgia, involving France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia and the U.S.

The Japanese diplomat declined to discuss details of the draft, which was negotiated informally by the Security Council members on February 10; he, however, said the text was “good and balanced,” which would meet the concerns of parties involved.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters in New York that drafted a resolution envisaged extending the UN observers’ mandate, which expires on February 15, for four months and the Security Council was expected to pass it this week.

French news agency AFP, reported that the draft resolution expresses the Council’s intention to “outline the elements of a future UN presence in the region by June 15, 2009” and also makes a reference to the Security Council’s April, 2008 resolution 1808, which supports “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.”

AFP also reported that text did not mention Georgia by name nor does it refer to the UN mission by its official name UNOMIG (United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia). Previous resolution on the matter passed four months ago was similar in this regard.

Officials in Tbilisi have been suggesting recently that Russia could also veto extension of UN observers’ presence in Georgia after it had already blocked extension of OSCE mission’s mandate. Like in case of OSCE mission, which among other things was dealing with the South Ossetian conflict, Russia is also pushing for having separate, independent UN mission in Abkhazia, which will not be linked with UNOMIG headquarters in Tbilisi.

Reuters reported on February 10, quoting unnamed western diplomat in Moscow familiar with the talks on UN observers’ mandate, that the UN mission was different from the one of OSCE. “For Russia, it will be more difficult to boot out the UN, when it also says the UN should be the core forum where international disputes should be handled,” the diplomat said.

Grigol Vashadze, the Georgian foreign minister, said on February 10 that Georgia’s number one priority in regard to UN mission’s mandate was to prevent any type of resolution that would allude to elements of Abkhazia’s recognition and the priority number two was to find a compromise solution that would help to keep UN observers in the line with the priority number one.

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