Interview with Revaz Adamia, Ambassador of Georgia to the UN

Mr. Revaz Adamia was a Member of Parliament in 1995-2002, Chairman of the Committee on Defense and Security. In 2001 Chairman of the Citizens’ Union of Georgia Parliamentary faction. Recently he was not actively involved in the political activity. Mr. Adamia was appointed on the post of the Georgian Ambassador to the United Nations on June 21, 2002. The Civil Georgia spoke with Mr. Adamia on main issues he intends to address as an ambassador.

Mr. Adamia, what would be the main priorities of your work at the UN?

Priorities remain the same. First of all, Abkhaz conflict resolution, where UN plays one of the leading roles. Though, it is not a secret that Georgian society expects more from the UN than it does today. I mean increased level of UN involvement in conflict resolution process.

The functions of the UN remain unclear for several reasons. One major reason is somehow inflexible structure of the UN decision-making. There are states, with the right to veto the decisions at the Security Council and hence adequate decisions quite often fail to be taken. One of the members of the UN Security Council is Russia, our big neighbor, that has clearly defined interests in Abkhazia, or let’s say, not in Abkhazia, but in Georgia, in order to leave Abkhaz conflict frozen. Russia does not officially admit this fact although, particularly, in the UN framework the unconstructive role Russia plays in conflict resolution is obvious. This is the main obstacle. Though, there could be some other obstacles [to increased UN involvement in Abkhazia conflict resolution].

Of course, there are other issues that are important for Georgia. For instance, an issue of the membership fees to the UN. There is an opinion that Georgia should pay more than it pays today taking into consideration the size of its territory and population. This will be a separate part of our work.

There are thousands of other programs in the framework of the UN specialized organizations. I still gather the information regarding those issues. But I try to do my best to ensure that Georgia is maximally involved in these organizations’ programs. This is what I can say about our priorities in advance. Maybe, some other issues would arise, which will be important and interesting for us.

Security Council is to discuss a document on distribution of competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi. The document remains confidential to date. Are you familiar with the basic principles of the document and what kind of attitudes do the member states, first of all Russia, have towards this document?

This document is confidential now, because it is not officially approved yet. It is usually referred to as “Boden document,” from the name of the former UN special representative to Georgia, who mainly drafted it. To the best of my knowledge, this document defines general framework, according to which Georgia is a unified state and Abkhazia is a part of it, an administrative-territorial entity with serious sovereign rights within Georgia. As far as I know, apart from Russia other countries support adoption of the document. For a long period, Russia hesitated to approve. But now, the situation has changed and it seems that Russia also agrees. Though, the final presentation of the document has not taken place yet. I think that this would be one of the main subjects at the Security Council meeting at the end of this month. We would like to be there at that time to exert some influence.

As to the details, how would be the competences divided up – probably, this would be the subject of other documents and as I know, these issues are not included in this [framework] document.

Significance of this document is that if Russia endorses it, then it should strive to build relations with us, as well as with current Abkhazia authorities based on this document. Whether the document would be acceptable to the current Abkhazia authorities is difficult to say. I doubt that they would applaud it. Based on my experience both Anri Jergenia [Abkhazia Prime Minister] and Vladislav Ardzinba [Abkazian President] continuously repeat that Abkhazia is an independent country and it is impossible for it to have any different status. Once again I repeat that this document very significant as it puts on paper the basic principles and frameworks in which Abkhazia exists. Consequently, the countries, the friends of Georgia, that will present it, would agree to observe those principles.

Currently Mr. [Dieter] Boden together with the new UN special representative of UN Ms. [Heidi] Tagliavini are to report on current situation in Abkhazia. Later, Kofi Annan’s report will be based this very report. According to the Secretary-General’s the new resolution of the Security Council will be adopted. The situation [on Abkhazia] may change. Though, it is not excluded that nothing will change and neither will Russia’s position.

Do you intend to raise question on changing the Russian peacekeepers’ mandate? Will this be a priority?

I still say, that the document [on distribution of the competencies] is classified. But according to my information, the Boden document does not touch upon this subject. The peacekeeper mandate is a separate issue. Drawing on my impression from the consultations with the Friends of Georgia group of countries and the UN representatives, I do not have an impression that the UN is ready today, in July, to consider revision of the peacekeeper mandate or conducting the operation under the UN rather than CIS banners. In this respect, special resolution adopted in Yalta is encouraging, as it clearly calls on parties to approach the UN, OSCE and the UN Secretary General Group of Friends on Georgia to provide security guarantees. This is a key to move towards widening of the peacekeeper’s mandate.

Till now, UN has only observer mission in Abkhazia. It would be wrong to neglect their role. This is one of the main factors to attract, involve international community in the conflict resolution process.

Still, I repeat that I do not have the impression that there is readiness [on UN side] to modify the [peacekeeper] mandate. There are some countries, first of all Ukraine, that express their willingness to participate in the peacekeeping operation only if the CIS mandate changes into the UN led peacekeeping operation. This will be one of the main issues we will work on and I mean not only our representation but also the whole state and its diplomatic corps. Much depends on how the things will develop in the Caucasus. Naturally, Russia will strongly oppose those changes, because deployment of the CIS, actually Russian, peacekeeping forces allows them to maintain dominant position and keep the conflict frozen. Whether it would be possible to change such attitude is a matter of consistent work. It is hard to build any other prognosis by today.


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