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The UN mandate in South Ossetia needs update2008-12-04 15:34
Today Sukhum is welcoming the UN official delegation in order to discuss the format of further work of its observer force in Abkhazia and its mandate renewal in the republic.
The UN monitoring mission has been in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict area since 1994 according to the Moscow cease-fire and disengagement of forces agreement signed by the two republics. The international experts are responsible for the situation monitoring in the region.
Until recently the UN mandate was prolonged on half-a year basis. The current mandate is valid till 2009 but already now the format of observers' activity needs serious modifications.
Due to two reasons. Firstly following the August events official Tbilisi reported on withdrawal from the Moscow agreement thus cancelling all stipulated nonaggression guarantees against Abkhazia.
Secondly the recognition of this republic as a sovereign state by Russia and Nicaragua has generated a lot of disputable questions in the mission's title that presently is this "the UN monitoring mission in Georgia». The Abkhazian side would prefer the diplomats to be in the republic with the official "UN mission in Abkhazia". This could somehow stand for recognition of the republic's sovereignty by the United Nations that the majority of its members are not going to do.
Commenting on the visit of the international guests the Foreign minister of the republic Sergey Shamba in his interview with "Independent newspaper" noted: "We really want the UN representatives to remain in Abkhazia. In my opinion the title in this situation is important but not primary. From the time of the latest mandate prolongation the events that led to serious changes in the region have taken place: Georgia's withdrawal from the Moscow agreements and pull-out of Russian peacekeepers from the conflict area (by the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan).
Accordingly the observers do not have former functions but there still is a mandate and mutual desire of the parties of their stay in the territory of the Republic of Abkhazia. That means a functional solution must be found for them, a concrete and efficient one". This is what the UN representatives are going to work out in Sukhum. The encouraging thing is that they decided not to delay the solution of this problem till the valid mandate expires as apparently they are interested in the constructive outcome of the talks.