NEW YORK, 30 JULY 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3912th MEETING
The situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, continues to cause my Government concern. On the ground, instability, tension and the risk of new confrontations have been high since the tragic events of May 1998, and make the work of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and the peacekeeping force of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) more difficult and more dangerous.
Concerning the political process, we must note the failure of the parties to settle the conflict. In fact, despite the considerable and sustained efforts of the United Nations, the Russian Federation, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the group of Friends of the Secretary-General to move the peace process forward, we are unfortunately still far from a political settlement.
As the Secretary-General points out in his report, the last six months have been marked by a lack of willingness to renounce violence or to consider seriously peaceful and mutually acceptable options for the resolution of the conflict.
The parties must commit themselves to the search for a political solution within the framework of the United Nations, making use of the mechanism established in November 1997. Political machinery to address the various questions of the peace process is in place and the commitment of the international community to the negotiation process is clear and firm. But primary responsibility for reinvigorating it rests with the parties themselves. They must grasp this opportunity with both hands, and we look forward to concrete and substantive progress on the outstanding issues of the definition of the political status of Abkhazia and the problem of the return of refugees and displaced persons in dignity and safety.
We would like to stress that it is particularly important to begin the return of refugees and displaced persons. We therefore call upon, in particular, the Abkhaz side to allow the unconditional and immediate return of all persons displaced since the resumption of hostilities in May 1998. We commend the Secretary-General and his Special Representative for their efforts to place the Geneva process back on track. The high-level meeting between the two parties which took place last week in Geneva under the aegis of the United Nations was in itself a positive step, and we hope that the parties will intensify their active engagement in this process. We urge them to refrain from the use of force and to observe strictly the Protocol on a Ceasefire and Withdrawal of Armed Formations signed on 25 May 1998.
We remain deeply concerned at the continuing deterioration of security conditions. A significant increase in subversive activities by armed groups has disrupted the peace process and impeded the return of refugees. My Government is particularly concerned about the attacks against UNOMIG and CIS personnel.
The Council should be unequivocal in its intolerance for violence against peacekeepers, which must stop immediately. We demand that the parties provide increased security for UNOMIG and other international personnel. In this regard, we welcome the measures already taken to improve security conditions and to minimize the danger to UNOMIG personnel.
However, we believe that unless further arrangements are made in this field, the Mission will not have the capacity to return to its full operational levels and to fulfil its mandated tasks. We therefore welcome the decision of the Secretary-General to keep the security of UNOMIG under constant review.
In conclusion, we support the extension of UNOMIG's mandate, as recommended by the Secretary-General, as well as the draft resolution before us, which addresses our concerns.