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15 June 2009 - Security Council: Georgia - Statement by Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(translation of statement made in French)

In resolution 1866 (2009), which we adopted and co sponsored unanimously, we expressed our intention to decide on the future of the United Nations presence on the basis of the Secretary-General’s report. That report, entitled "Report ... pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1808 (2008), 1839 (2008) and 1866 (2009)" (S/2009/254), received broad support within the Council when it was presented. On that basis, therefore, intensive talks and negotiations took place in the Group of Friends of Georgia.

Several draft resolutions were discussed. On Friday, the Group met for more than six hours. On Saturday, we met again. Many gestures were agreed with regard to the security regime. We were not far from an agreement. It is true that, throughout, Russia tried to use that process to get Council members to change their minds on Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. That is why all the Russian proposals included references to "the Republic of Abkhazia" and its borders — provocative terms obviously unacceptable to a majority of the Council members.

Strangely, Russia also refused any reference to a conflict and, what is of even greater concern, any reference to a political process. However, progress was made. We felt that those negotiations should be given every chance of success. That is why France, in a constructive spirit, together with Germany, Austria, Croatia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Turkey, yesterday put into blue the draft resolution (S/2009/310) that we have just voted on. That text proposed a technical rollover for the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) in order to give some oxygen to the negotiations.

The text was in line with the previous UNOMIG technical rollover resolutions, 1838 (2008) and 1866 (2009). Both those resolutions came into effect after the August conflict and after Russia recognized the separatist entities. And, as Council members will remember, Russia voted for both those resolutions, in unanimity with the Council. Russia even co-sponsored resolution 1866 (2009). One of the key elements that made it possible to adopt these resolutions and for them to be accepted by the host country, Georgia, was the reference to resolution 1808 (2008). That reference did not prevent Russia from voting for them.

Russia asked us to remove that reference in the current draft. That proposal was unacceptable to us and to a majority of the members of the Security Council for several reasons: first, because France, like the European Union, is fundamentally attached to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders; then, because nothing has happened since the vote on resolution 1866 (2009) in February that would justify the Council changing its position; and finally, because removing that reference would clearly have prejudged the outcome of future negotiations, rather than reorienting the current order in order to enable those negotiations to take place. Under those conditions, it is inexplicable to us that Russia has put an end to this Mission because of a reference to resolution 1808 (2008).

Russia assumed a heavy burden by imposing its veto on the draft text. The draft resolution would have been adopted by a wide majority without that veto, and with good reason. Russia has put an end to 15 years of the stabilizing presence of the United Nations in the area. The local population, which must be assured of security and external monitoring to prevent provocation and arbitrary acts, will be the first victim of that decision. The veto also leaves a situation on the ground that remains very fragile and unstable, with unresolved hatred, artificial barriers and no peace process underway. The Security Council cannot distance itself from that situation.

Once again, France deeply regrets the Russian veto. The most important thing now is peace and stability in the region. France calls on all parties with forces in the area to strictly respect the August and September 2008 agreements. Finally, we reiterate our unreserved support for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU