The UN General Assembly adopted on June 3 Georgia-sponsored resolution reiterating the right of return of all displaced persons and refugees to breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia by a vote of 75 in favor to 16 against, with 78 abstentions.
This is the eighth consecutive year that such a non-binding resolution is being adopted by the UN General Assembly.
Last year the similar resolution was passed by a vote of 69 to 13 against, with 79 abstentions.
Turkey, which has always been abstaining in previous years, voted in favor of the resolution for the first time this year.
Georgia says the goal of pushing the resolution annually on the Assembly is to keep the issue high on the international agenda and to widen the support towards the resolution from year to year.
Russia, which has always been voting against, reiterated that raising the issue every year at the UN General Assembly is a “politicized” initiative by Georgia for “propagandistic purposes”. Russian envoy told the Assembly on June 3 that discussing it at the UN without Abkhaz and South Ossetian representatives was “counterproductive” and “pointless”, which was also hindering addressing the issue of IDPs and refugees at the Geneva International Discussions, launched after the August 2008 war.
At the Geneva talks, representatives from breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia refuse to discuss issues related with return of IDPs, citing Tbilisi’s attempt to “politicize” the issue by pushing it annually at the UN General Assembly.
Russian representative also told the Assembly that the key issue for the return of refugees and IDPs is security, but “Georgia’s persistent refusal to sign non-use of force agreements” with Sokhumi and Tskhinvali “does not contribute to creation of conditions for safe return of refugees.” Tbilisi, which has already unilaterally undertaken non-use of force commitment, wants a reciprocal move by Russia, but the latter refuses, claiming that it is not party in the conflict.
Georgia’s UN ambassador, Kakha Imnadze, told the Assembly before the vote that the resolution “is not directed against any party.”
“Nor does it aim to point fingers at those responsible for forced displacement. Its primary focus on human rights is a deliberate choice to avoid political speculation when the fundamental rights of displaced are at stake,” Imnadze said.
“Text of the resolution remains unchanged, because its provisions continue to remain unfulfilled,” the Georgian diplomat said. “When introducing this resolution every year, we leave politics aside, and focus exclusively on humanitarian dimension of the problem.”
Along with Turkey, other countries, which were either abstaining or not voting at all in previous years, but supported the resolution this year, are: Panama; Guatemala; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Trinidad and Tobago; Guyana and Tonga.
Along with Russia, other countries, which usually vote against of the resolution are: Armenia; Belarus; Cuba; North Korea; Laos; Myanmar; Nauru; Nicaragua; Sudan; Syria; Venezuela and Vietnam.
Burundi, which voted in favor last year, was against now. Maldives and Zimbabwe, which did not vote at all last year, also voted against this time.
Honduras and Vanuatu, which were in favor last year, were among abstentions this time.
Georgian Foreign Minister, Tamar Beruchashvili, welcomed the vote results and said that the task of increasing number of supporters for the resolution “has been successfully accomplished this year.”
“It is regrettable that the Russian representatives tried as usually to politicize this issue,” Beruchashvili said.