PROTOCOL OF THE SIXTH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE COORDINATING COUNCIL OF THE GEORGIAN AND ABKHAZ SIDES

Geneva, 17-18 December 1998.

The sixth session of the Coordinating Council set up based on the final declaration of the meeting of the Georgian and Abkhazian sides (Geneva, 17-19 November 1997) was held as an exception in Geneva on 17-18 December 1998 under the auspices of the United Nations, chaired by the UN Secretary Generalís Special Representative Mr. Liviu Bota, with participation of representatives of the Russian Federation as a facilitating side, of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the countries, members of the UN Secretary Generalís group of friends: France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as observers.

The Georgian side was represented by the delegation headed by Mr. Vazha Lordkipanidze.

The Abkhazian side was represented by the delegation headed by Mr. Sergey Bagapsh.

Opening the session, the Special Representative noted that after the 16-18 October 1998 meeting in Athens of the Georgian and Abkhazian sides on measures aimed at strengthening trust and as affected by it in a wholesome way, the sides started holding fruitful bilateral negotiations on the issues concerning: 1) security and non-use of force; 2) return of refugees; and 3) measures of economic rehabilitation of Abkhazia. Without accusing any of the sides of the lack of conscientiousness in the negotiations, the Special Representative noted that the negotiations seemed to be protracted due to certain misunderstanding. Nevertheless, in the Special Representativeís opinion, the positions of the sides on concrete disputed issues are not irreconcilable and there is a possibility of continuation of the negotiations.

The Special Representative further noted that the current session of the Council is being held at the background of speedy deterioration of the situation concerning security in the conflict zone. The situation is extremely dangerous and there is a risk of repetition of the developments like those that took place in May.

The UN Secretary Generalís Special Representative urged the delegations of the sides, participants of the session, to approach the discussion of the items on the agenda taking into account the mentioned circumstances, the acuteness of the situation, and the importance of the moment.

The agenda of the session comprised the following issues:

1.Issues of sustained cease-fire and security problems;

2. Refugees and internally displaced persons;

3. Economic and social problems.

Representatives of the sides, the Russian Federation as a facilitating side, OSCE and the UN Secretary Generalís group of friends made statements.

The chief military observer of the UNOMIG General Tariq Ghazi, the representative of UNHCR, and the UNDP representative Mr. Marco Borsotti also participated in the discussion of the agenda.

The Abkhazian side stated that it is starting the process of unilateral return of refugees to Gali District and urged the United Nations, the Russian Federation as a facilitating side, OSCE, the countries, members of the UN Secretary Generalís group of friends, as well as the Georgian side to render assistance in this process.

The Georgian side noted that the Abkhazian sideís statement on the so-called ďunilateral return of refugeesĒ is purely declarative and in reality, it does not enable to carry out the process of return of refugees and displaced persons, as it is well known that the process cannot be organized without creation of related necessary mechanisms and guarantees with the most active participation in it of the Georgian side and the international community.

The sides made statements in connection with the emerging threat of instability in the conflict zone (appended).

The Council adopted the following decisions:

1. The sides will without delay take decisive measures for meticulous implementation by related bodies of their executive powers of the decisions made by the Coordinating Council previously aimed at slackening of tension and normalization of the situation in Gali District, and in the first place those provided for by the Protocol of the fourth (second special) session (Paragraph 1), Protocol of the fifth session (Paragraphs 1a, 1b, and 1c) and the annex thereto.

2. The UN Secretary Generalís Special Representative shall continue and complete consultations with the sides on establishment of a joint group for investigation and prevention of terrorist attacks and other violations of law in accordance with the decisions of the Council set in the Protocol of the fourth (second special) session (paragraph 2) and Protocol of the fifth session (Paragraph 2).

3. As provided for by the Protocol of the fifth session of the Council, in cases the sides disregard protests of the UNOMIG and the CIS CPKF concerning violations of the Moscow Agreement on Cease-fire and Separation of Forces, the UN Secretary Generalís Special Representative shall inform thereof the UN Secretary General who will submit the problem for discussion at the UN Security Council.

4. To convoke in Gali District an urgent meeting of authorized representatives of the sides no later than 22 December for the purpose of preventing destabilization of the situation in the conflict zone, coordinating and adopting effective measures aimed at implementation of the bilateral agreements achieved previously and set in the 25 May 1998 Protocol on cease-fire, separation of armed formations, and guarantees of prevention of violent actions, and the Protocol of the meeting of the Georgian and Abkhazian sides on issues of stabilization of the situation along the line of separation of the sides signed in Sukhumi on 24 September 1998.

The participants of the session took notice of the proposals of the governments of Turkey and Ukraine to host in respective countries high level meetings in the framework of the Geneva peace process.

18 December 1998

(Abkhaz Issue in Official Documents, Legislative and Executive organs of Georgia, International Organizations, 1989-1999, part II, 1995-1999; authors: Vakhtang Kholbaia, Teimuraz Chakhrakia, Rafiel Gelantia, David Latsuzbaia, Tb., 2000, p. 273-275/in Georgan)