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US resolution: hopes and reality

By Messenger Staff
Monday, September 14
On September 9 the UN General Assembly supported the Georgian Government’s proposal that the IDPs from Russian-occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be given the right to return. The resolution was adopted with 48 countries voting in favour, 19 against and 78 abstaining. Georgian state officials consider this a great victory of Georgian diplomacy. However analysts and opposition members, though welcoming the UN vote, say that the resolution is only a recommendation and Russia will take no notice of it.

In May 2008 an almost analogous resolution was adopted by the General Assembly, though this concerned only Abkhazia. Its terms were not fulfilled, as everyone knows, and in August even more ethnic Georgians were expelled from the region, principally from the Kodori Gorge. Having ignored the previous resolution there are no guarantees that Russia will respect the current one.

The May 2008 resolution stated that a clear timetable for the return of IDPs to their original homes should be drawn up, but how this would be done and by whom was left vague. The new resolution also recommends the same thing and urges the Secretary General of the UN to submit a report on how the resolution is being implemented at the 64th regular meeting of the General Assembly. But all this is simply on paper: there is no agreed mechanism, if such a thing even exists, which will be implemented to force Russia to respect the UN’s decision.

The Georgian leadership considers it a victory that this issue was not discussed by the Security Council, where Russia has a veto and has repeatedly blocked any initiative confirming Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Georgian delegation insisted that it be considered by the General Assembly, where no one has a veto. Russia was left to face the world on equal terms and lost.

Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Grigol Vashadze has stated that today the frontline between Russia and Georgia is drawn on one side of international law, whereas the line of occupation is drawn on the administrative borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The resolution adopted by the General Assembly on September 9 confirmed that the ‘new reality’ so much promoted by Russia, in other words its creation and recognition of so-called ‘independent states’ is against the norms of international legislation. Russia fiercely opposed the resolution in New York, however the majority of countries present supported it, and significantly enough all the European countries either voted in favour of it or abstained. None voted against.

The opposition welcome the resolution in general as a positive development but express scepticism about the effect it will have, based on long and sad experience of Russia ignoring all the civilized norms of international law. The Abkhazian puppet regime’s Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba says, reinforced by Russian support, that the UN resolution has no significance at all and only if Georgia’s policy towards Abkhazia changes, meaning if Georgia recognises it as independent, would there be any reason to discuss it. However there is possibility that the UN General Assembly will adopt similar resolutions. Former Georgian Ambassador to the UN Rezo Adamia suggests that the UN might declare the breakaway regions to be occupied zones. The Georgian delegation will put the issue of the UN resolution on the agenda of the forthcoming Geneva talks. “We will demand that a precise timetable for the worthy and secure return of the IDPs to the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions is elaborated, as the UN resolution envisages,” says Giorgi Baramia, head of the pro-Tbilisi Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia Government.

These are Georgian hopes which confront Russian reality.