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Volume 712: debated on Thursday 2 July 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how the situation in Abkhazia will be monitored following the ending of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia; and whether the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe will provide monitors. [HL4455]

The UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) ceased all mandated activity on 16 June 2009. There are now no international military monitors operating in Abkhazia. The EU Monitoring Mission is mandated to operate in the whole of Georgia, but in practice has never had proper access to the separatist regions. We continue to press for this.

The UK and partners are exploring options to strengthen the international presence in Abkhazia. The closure of UNOMIG has had no effect on the status of other UN agencies, such as the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who continue to operate in Abkhazia. Our embassy officials in Georgia have visited Abkhazia since the war, most recently in May 2009.

We have supported the role of international monitors in investigating—where they can—allegations of human rights violations. This is especially relevant in the case of the increasingly exposed ethnic Georgian population in Abkhazia.

We will continue to remind all parties of their obligations to protect human rights and to allow unhindered humanitarian access in areas they control as enshrined in the Sarkozy-Medvedev agreement. We will push them to deliver on this.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) military monitoring operation is due to close on 30 June 2009. The monitors currently operate in Georgian-controlled territory adjacent to South Ossetia. Prior to August 2008 they had access to South Ossetia, but they have never had access to Abkhazia. We continue to press Russia to re-engage on the Greek chairman's proposals regarding the OSCE Monitoring Mission in Georgia, which would allow OSCE monitors to work in South Ossetia. We are concurrently looking at options for an alternative OSCE presence working in Georgia on specific issues, not necessarily related to conflict.