The UN General Assembly passed on September 7 Georgia-sponsored resolution reiterating the right of return of all displaced persons and refugees to breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia by a vote of 50 in favor to 17 against, with 86 abstentions.
Last year the resolution was passed with 48 countries voting in favor; 19 – against and with 78 abstentions. In 2008 the resolution was passed with small margin of 14 votes in favor to 11 against and 105 abstentions.
“We have two votes more [this year] and our opponents, Russian diplomats lost two votes,” Grigol Vashadze, the Georgian foreign minister, said at a joint news conference with his visiting Finnish counterpart, Alexander Stubb, on September 8.
“This trend will continue because of a simple reason – the international community has ruled a verdict on the occupying power’s actions in the occupied territories, including in respect of ethnic cleansing; there is a good wording in the resolution ‘forced demographic changes’, which is a synonym of ethnic cleansing,” he said.
Before the vote on September 7, Russia tried to remove the issue from the agenda, describing the text as “odious”; but its motion was defeated by a vote of 67 against to 32 in favor, with 54 abstentions.
Russia’s UN envoy said that the resolution had no humanitarian aims and its motivations were exclusively political and based on short-term calculations by Georgia. Russia also said that the text of resolution was unrealistic, in particular the idea of a timetable for the early return of refugees and internally displaced persons, which the Russian envoy said, did not take into account the Secretary-General’s report stating that it was premature to develop such timetable.