Georgia’s UN envoy, Alexander Lomaia, accused Russia of blackmailing UN Secretariat and criticized the latter for submitting that pressure.
Speaking at a news conference in UN headquarters on May 27, the Georgian diplomat claimed that UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, had to significantly modify his recent report on Abkhazia as a result of Russia’s pressure.
“We are troubled by the fact that the last round of Geneva talks were used by Russia to manipulate with both the title and content of the report,” Lomaia said. “It is very unfortunate and alarming that the [UN] Secretariat submitted to the Russian blackmail.”
He was referring to Russia’s walk out from the first day of fifth round of talks in Geneva on May 18, hours before the Secretary General released his report on situation in Abkhazia. The report was initially planned to be released for May 15, but was delayed, as Lomaia put it, for “unexplained” reasons.
Lomaia also said, citing “reliable sources” from the Secretariat that the initial draft submitted by the Secretary General to the Secretariat “differed drastically” from its final version.
“Russians threatened to veto the forthcoming June resolution [on extending UN mission’s mandate] unless the report of the Secretary General is titled in a way they wanted it to be titled. This is something that has been reported to me from very reliable sources,” Lomaia said.
He also added that he had a reason to suggest that Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to the UN on May 11 also had its part in “the pressure by Russians on the Secretariat.”
The document’s title is “Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1808 (2008), 1839 (2008) and 1866” – it omits a traditional wording – “Abkhazia, Georgia” used in previous reports. Moscow and Sokhumi insisted that UN can no longer use the wording “Abkhazia, Georgia” after two of its member states – Russia and Nicaragua – recognized Abkhazia’s independence.
“Regretfully the report represents a clear step backwards from the previous reports by the Secretary General,” Lomaia said and added that the document contained “numerous negative developments, along with some positive elements too.”
Lomaia said that the report was not providing opportunity for creating a mission, which would be able “to adequately address challenges on the ground.”
He said that the UN mission based on those proposals laid out in the Secretary General recent report would “not be conducive for establishment peace and order on Georgia’s occupied territories.”
The Georgian diplomat said that the UN mission should “have strong police and law enforcement capabilities and it should be able to establish law and order on the occupied territories.”
“The report failed to notice that the elephant is in the room,” Lomaia said while responding on a question what Georgia wanted to see in the document.
“The report failed – and its fundamental flaw – to notice that thousands and thousands Russian occupying forces, heavy artillery, tanks have been stationed in the country in breach of fundamental [international] norms,” he said. “The document failed to notice major human violations that have been taking place in various parts of Abkhazia, most notably… ethnic cleansing of Georgians from upper Abkhazia.”
He also said that despite Georgia’s “disapproval” of the document, Tbilisi was ready to “constructively engage” in discussions on future presence of UN observer mission in the country.
Consultations among UN Security Council members about the Secretary General’s report were held on May 27.
Vitaly Churkin, the Russian UN envoy, told journalists after the meeting that they had “good and business-like discussion” and that the recommendations laid out by the Secretary General in the report represented “good basis” for further discussions on Security Council’s forthcoming resolution by mid-June.