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Monday Deadline Looms for Unresolved U.N. Monitor Terms in Abkhazia

The extension of United Nations monitoring in Abkhazia is still unsettled, due to a disagreement over wording in the resolution. The most that Reuters could pry from U.N. diplomats was the following:

U.N. special representative Johan Verbeke did not discuss the chances of a deal, which diplomats say is on a knife-edge.

But he cautioned that without the mission, “you end up having a situation where there is no longer the security regime, where there are no longer the monitors, and therefore intrinsically a situation where stability is less secured than it is currently.”

“You basically leave the population on its own,” the Belgian diplomat told Reuters in Tbilisi.

“It (the population) has to stay there, but there is no … international presence on which they can rely for securing a minimum environment that allows them to live normally.”

The Wall Street Journal got on record Georgia’s National Security Council Secretary Eka Tkeshelashvili:

A spokesman for Russia’s mission to the United Nations declined to comment on continuing negotiations. Western diplomats say Russia doesn’t seem to necessarily want to drive the monitors out of Abkhazia, but is digging in hard over the language.

Georgian leaders, however, say a U.N. acceptance of Russia’s position on the ground would be too high a price to pay to keep an international presence. “This is all we have–a very firm international recognition of Georgia’s territorial integrity, and a universal international recognition of Russia’s obligation to withdraw its forces,” says Ms. Tkeshelashvili. Accepting a U.N. resolution without that language would “erode the only strength we have,” she said.

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