January 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 22 December 2006
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Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to receive the Secretary-General’s quarterly report on the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and a briefing from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Jean Arnault. Discussion is expected on the Kodori Valley and ways of restarting dialogue between Georgia and the Abkhazia.  UNOMIG’s mandate expires on 15 April 2007.

Key Recent Developments
Tensions have increased since the last UNOMIG report. Dialogue between the parties has been suspended since July when Tbilisi sent troops into the upper Kodori Gorge, arguing this was for legitimate law enforcement purposes. Georgia is willing to resume discussions, but Abkhaz leaders have refused until the troops are withdrawn.  Without regular access to the upper Kodori Valley, UNOMIG has found it difficult to assess the situation.

On 11 December the de facto Abkhaz authorities suspended border crossings and threatened to cut off hydroelectric power to Georgia after the arrest of the de facto head of the Gali district administration for alleged drug trafficking.

Georgia’s parliament condemned the Russian Duma’s resolutions of 6 December calling for recognition of the secession of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia and the possible incorporation of these provinces into Russia.

On 13 October, the Council in resolution 1716 encouraged the resumption of joint patrols on 12 October by UNOMIG and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeepers in the upper Kodori Valley.  But so far, only one joint patrol has taken place due to the current tensions and the underlying Georgian concern that the CIS peacekeepers are Russian. (Georgia continues to push for their replacement by an international force.)
On 26 October, UNOMIG investigated reports that three rockets had been launched from Abkhazia into the upper Kodori Valley.

Russia has maintained the retaliatory measures it imposed against Georgia in October after Georgian authorities briefly held four Russian soldiers on espionage charges.

Key Issues
The major issue is how to restart dialogue between Georgia and the Abkhazia.  One obstacle since July, when Georgia sent troops into the upper Kodori Gorge, has been the dispute over whether this violated the 1994 Moscow Agreement between Georgia and Abhazia. 

Russia’s increasingly robust position on breakaway states will be on the minds of many Council members. It has become clear that Russia will support cases like Abhkazia and South Ossetia where independence is being pursued. (Russia has also welcomed recent referenda in Transdnestria in Moldova and South Ossetia supporting independence.)

Council Dynamics
Traditionally, this issue is discussed by the Group of Friends (France, Germany, Russia, the UK, the US and, in New York, Slovakia) before the Council meets. The Group is expected to meet in Geneva in January, when the agenda will include confidence-building measures leading to the resumption of dialogue and the internationalisation of the peacekeeping operation in Abhkazia.

The last two renewals of UNOMIG’s mandate have been complicated by Georgia’s close relations with the US and Russia’s support for Abkhazia. Deteriorating relations between Georgia and Russia are likely to worsen matters. While January’s discussions do not require any decisions since UNOMIG’s mandate continues until April, some positive Council contribution at this stage could help avoid a volatile discussion when the mandate expires.

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UN Documents

Latest Security Council Resolution
  • S/RES/1716 (13 October 2006) extended UNOMIG’s mandate until 15 April 2007 and expressed concern about Georgian action in the Kodori Valley in July 2006.
 Selected Letters
  • S/2006/880 (2 November 2006) was a letter from GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova) containing the statement made at the Council of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the CIS welcoming Georgia’s decision to return Russian servicemen who had been detained in Georgia.
  • S/2006/845 (25 October 2006) was the letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia regarding the bombing of the upper Kodori village of Azhara.
  • S/2006/807 (13 October 2006) was the letter transmitting the statement from the Georgian Foreign Ministry on resolution 1716.
 Selected Secretary-General’s Report
  • S/2006/771 (28 September 2006) was the latest Secretary-General’s report.

For historical background and a more complete list of documents please see our For the historical background, please see our January, March , July and October 2006 Forecasts and the 12 October Update.

Other Relevant Facts

 Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission 
 Jean Arnault (France)
 UNOMIG: Size and Composition
  •  Authorised strength as of 31 August 2006: 135 total uniformed personnel, including 121 military observers and 12 police
  •  Key troop contributors: Germany, Pakistan and Bangladesh
 August 1993 to present
1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007: $34.83 million (gross)
Other Facts
 Size of CIS troops: about 1,800 Russian troops

Full forecast 

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