Statement by the Chairman
High-level meeting of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General
12-13 February 2007, Geneva
From 12 to 13 February 2007, senior representatives of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General met in Geneva under the chairmanship of the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping. Together with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the Friends discussed the United Nations-led Georgian-Abkhaz peace process and ways to promote the dialogue between the parties, in particular the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1716 (2006). Representatives of the Georgian and Abkhaz sides took part in the meeting.
The Chairman stressed that the United Nations and the Group of Friends had come together to promote and support a negotiated solution of thje conflict. Relevant resolutions of the Security Council will continue to guide their action. They believe that a comprehensive political solution can be achieved through dialogue and that the situation on the ground in the areas of security, IDP return and rehabilitation and development can and must be improved. The two sides have a primary responsibility in resolving them. The international community can assist, in particular by ensuring that resources are available to implement the agreements between the parties. At the same time, the two sides are expected to focus on those issues where they can cooperate and accomodate one another.
In their separate discussions with the Friends, the parties stated their views and positions regarding the peace process, and reviewed progress achieved in the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1716 (2006).
The Georgian side expressed its readiness for direct dialogue with the Abkhaz side at all levels and without preconditions, including a meeting at the highest level.
Acknowledging the deteriorating security situation in Gali, it proposed high level meetings on security issues, and offered to enhance transparency and confidence in the upper Kodori valley, including through inclusion of Abkhaz representatives in the monitoring visits. It agreed on the neeed for a regime of notification and verification in tge Security Zone. It reaffirmes its commitment to rehabilitation activities as part of the existing EC-funded programme. The Georgian side reaffirmed the fundamental principle of the right of return for all internally displaced persons and refugees, including beyond the Gali district. In this respect, it agreed to move forward on the implementation of the UNHCR strategy. It stated its readiness to facilitate contacts between the Abkhaz side and the Abkhaz community in Turkey.
The Abkhaz side stated that the resumption of dialogue required strict adherence to previous agreements. In particular, it emphasized the need for the withdrawal of armed personnel from the upper Kodori valley. Expressing is readiness to resolve the situation there, the Abkhaz side suggested a gradual transfer of law enforcement functions to the local community together with the possible involvement of international police. The Abkhaz side also underlined the need tj reduce tensions in the Gali district, in light of recent violent incidents, and proposed to reinvirogate existing security mechanisms to that effect. The Abkhaz side supported the idea of a meeting at the highest level provided that it led to concrete outcomes, such as the signing of a document on the non-resumption of hostilities or the lifting of economic restrictions. It expressed its readiness to implement UNHCR´s Strategic Directions for the return of internally displaced persons, in the first instance to Gali.
The Friends, for their part, encouraged both sides to resume dialogue. They particularly stressed the need for immediate engagement on security issues. Acknowledging progress on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1716 (2006), the Friends urged the parties to continue to take conckrete steps in line with their Proposals for Confidence Building Measures. They highlighted the need to refrain from any action that could impede progress or undermine confidence, and urged the sides to take into account one another´s sensitivities and to cooperate to deescalate tensions. With respect to the Kodori valley, they noted the need to ensure compliance with the 1994 Agreement on a Ceasfire and Separation of Forces as well as the maintenance of law and order. The Friends reaffirmed the right to return of IDPs and refugees to Abkhazia, Georgia; and encouraged the sides to focus on practical steps to improve conditions for returns, in the first instance to Gali.
The Friends deemed it useful to keep under review the contribution of the international presence, including police, to the implementation of the Moscow Agreement and the resolutions of the Scurity Council with a view to strengthening the confidence of the sides and the communities affected by the conflict. The Friends undertook to monitor closely implementation of the Proposals for Confidence Building Measures and the assurances given by the parties.
The Friends expressed full support for the efforts of the special Representative to these ends.
Geneva, 13 February 2007