Georgia accused of plotting new armed assault

Tbilisi’s demand to cease peacekeeping operations in Abkhazia, which are carried out in full compliance with international law, appears as nothing but an attempt to lay groundwork for a new military undertaking, only this time against Abkhazia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement following reports that Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili decided to denounce an agreement on the Russian peacekeeping mission’s presence in Abkhazia and declare the Russian armed forces in the Abkhaz region occupation troops.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement reads that, formally, the decision of the Council of the CIS Heads-of-State dated September 19, 2003 on positioning Collective Peacekeeping Forces (CPF) in the conflict zone in Abkhazia provides for the possibility of automatically calling an end to this peacekeeping operation in the event any party to the conflict should make the corresponding claim.

However, Moscow would reckon it fundamentally erroneous to consider Saakashvili’s statement in isolation from the dramatic situation that has arisen in the region as a result of Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia and the ensuing humanitarian disaster.

The Foreign Ministry indicates that, firstly, the use of the CIS Collective Peacekeeping Forces is carried out with the consent of not only Georgia, but also Abkhazia. This is documented in the Moscow ceasefire and disengagement agreement of May 14, 1994 (it does not regulate matters of the cessation of the peacekeeping operation). The CIS Heads-of-State Council decision to use Collective Peacekeeping Forces of August 22, 1994 contains a direct reference to the Abkhaz side’s request of May 15, 1994 and the aforementioned Moscow agreement. Moscow considers it impossible to decide the fate of the peacekeeping operation without taking into account the opinion of the Abkhaz side.

Secondly, the positioning of the CIS CPF in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone is supported by the UN Security Council, which is expressed on numerous occasions in its resolutions, including Resolution 1808 of April 15, 2008. Provisions on the CIS CPF are an integral part of the 1994 Moscow agreement, which means that in the event of the CPF’s liquidation, the entire international-law architecture of the Georgian-Abkhaz peace process will be destroyed.

And thirdly, an agreement was reached as of January 6, 1995 in the form of an exchange of letters between the CIS and the UN on the corresponding roles and obligations of the CPF and the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG). In effect, the UNOMIG cannot fulfill its mandate without the support of the CPF, which have been charged to provide security for UNOMIG staff. UN Security Council resolutions provide for the revision of the UNOMIG mandate in the event the CPF mandate is amended.

[Source: RosBusinessConsulting, Moscow, 13Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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