07TBILISI2090, ABKHAZIA: UN BASE ESTABLISHED IN UPPER KODORI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2090 2007-08-21 13:20 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5845
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2090/01 2331320
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 211320Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7376
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002090 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/21/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM GG
SUBJECT: ABKHAZIA:  UN BASE ESTABLISHED IN UPPER KODORI 
VALLEY 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 1604 
 
     B. TBILISI 2043 
 
Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES MARK X. PERRY.  REASONS: 
1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary:  On August 16, the UN Special Representative 
of the Secretary General (SRSG) Jean Arnault and the Chief of 
the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) General Khattak 
provided the Friends of the Secretary General (FSG) an update 
on the situation in Abkhazia, following the Geneva-style 
meeting in Bonn (reftel A.)  On the Upper Kodori Valley, 
Khattak said that the UN had now set up a permanent base in 
the village of Azhara.  On the Sigua case, Khattak reported 
that the first meeting of the Joint Fact Finding Group was 
August 6 and a follow-on meeting is scheduled for August 21. 
On the patriotic camp in Ganmukhuri, Khattak relayed 
continued Abkhaz concerns but said there were no reports of 
military activities at the camp, which he believed would be 
closed by October.  On resumption of the Quadripartite 
Meetings (QPM), Arnault said the UN expected a positive 
response soon from the Georgians to the new format proposed 
by the UN.  End summary. 
 
2. (C) On August 16, UN SRSG Arnault and UNOMIG General 
Khattak briefed the FSG on the situation in Abkhazia as a 
follow-up to the Geneva-style meeting in Bonn.  German 
Ambassador Flor, British Ambassador Keefe, French Ambassador 
Fournier, U.S. Charge Perry and Russian Third Secretary 
Kurenkov participated on behalf of the Friends. 
 
UPPER KODORI:  UN BASE ESTABLISHED, NEED TO SEPARATE FORCES 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
3. (C) Khattak began with a briefing on the situation in the 
Upper Kodori Valley (UKV).  He said the UN had established a 
team base in the village of Azhara, although it was too newly 
established to provide an assessment of the security 
situation.  He expressed some concern over the strength of 
the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) presence in the UKV, 
which he assessed to be more than the 576 officers declared 
by the Georgians based on log books maintained by UNOMIG 
checkpoint 302.  He noted a Georgian report of five 
helicopters observed on the evening of August 5, which the UN 
is investigating, and the UN report of helicopters seen above 
UKV on August 11, which he said were the President's escort 
helicopters scrambled in response to a morning incident in 
which Russian planes were spotted on the hills above the UKV 
(in Russian territory) on the same day as the President's 
visit.  The most important issue, Khattak underscored, is 
creating a line to separate the forces in UKV, as the Moscow 
Agreement is unclear on this point. 
 
4. (C) Khattak reviewed two complaints by the Georgians over 
checkpoints in Abkhazia.  He said Georgia registered a 
complaint about CIS Peacekeeping Force (PKF) checkpoint 302, 
which is on the main access road to the UKV.  Following an 
incident on July 28 involving a near confrontation between 
the PKF and a senior Georgian official, the Georgians 
complained that they had not been consulted on the 
establishment of the checkpoint and that the checkpoint did 
not have the right to inspect vehicles.  Khattak said that 
the checkpoint had been established in 1995 and had been 
making inspections since Georgia retook control of the UKV in 
2006.  He made a case for the importance of this checkpoint 
as well as two others (307 and 107) for monitoring what goes 
into the UKV.  Khattak said that following a meeting between 
the head of the PKF and the Georgian Ministry of Defense, the 
sides agreed that the checkpoint would inspect MIOA vehicles 
but not civilian traffic. 
 
5. (C) Separately, Khattak said Georgia registered a 
complaint about CIS PKF checkpoint 107 A, which is on the 
southern side of the de facto line of demarcation between 
Upper and Lower Kodori at broken bridge.  He said that 107 A 
was established as an outpost of checkpoint 107 following 
Georgia's retake of the UKV in July 2006.  Following the 
calming of tensions after the operation, the UN withdrew this 
position but re-established it on August 6.  Khattak 
characterized the outpost, which has line of sight into the 
UKV, as an appropriate step by PKF commander Chaban.  Khattak 
also briefed on a planned exercise by the Abkhaz militia 
August 20-24 which the Abkhaz said would include 6,000 
forces.  Khattak said the Abkhaz assured the UN that there 
would be no large exercises and said that UNOMIG had never 
seen a mobilization of more than 2-3,000 forces.  He said 
UNOMIG would monitor the exercises. 
 
SIGUA:  INVESTIGATION STARTED, SO FAR, SO GOOD 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
TBILISI 00002090  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
6. (C) Khattak said the Joint Fact Finding Group's first 
meeting, which he chaired, on the investigation into the 
disappearance of David Sigua, an ethnic Georgian who worked 
in the de fact administration, took place on August 6.
Mrs. 
Sigua and another relative were presented as witnesses.  He 
said the JFFG has not been able to establish a motive in the 
case.  He characterized the first meeting as professional and 
said that the next would take place on August 21 and would 
examine the alleged escape route and talk to Abkhaz militia 
who reportedly pursued Sigua's captors. 
 
PATRIOT CAMP:  NO EVIDENCE OF MILITARY ACTIVITY 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
7. (C) Khattak reported continued Abkhaz concerns over the 
Georgian patriot camp at Ganmukhuri, near the Abkhaz-Georgian 
ceasefire line.  The Abkhaz claim that foreign youth from 
GUAM countries are participating in the camp, although the UN 
could not confirm this.  He said 250-300 youth are 
participating in cultural activities and there are no reports 
of any military activities being conducted in the camp. 
Khattak assessed that there is a decrease in posturing on 
both sides over the camp and believed that the camp would be 
closed by October. 
 
QPMS:  GEORGIANS EXPECTED TO RESPOND POSITIVELY TO UN FORMAT 
--------------------------------------------- --------------- 
 
8. (C) On the resumption of the QPMs, Arnault said that the 
UN is expecting a positive response from the Georgians soon. 
The issue is with State Minister for Conflict Resolution 
Bakradze, whom he characterized as a good change because of 
his closeness to the President and his credibility within the 
ruling party.  German Ambassador Flor said she raised this 
with Bakradze, who said the issue was now before an 
inter-ministerial meeting including the MOIA and MOD.  He was 
aware the UN is owed an answer and noted that there are only 
small issues of concern such as whether the meetings could 
alternate between Zugdidi and Gali.  British Ambassador Keefe 
said he heard the same from Bakradze. 
 
CBMS:  IMPORTANT POINT OF CONTINUED FOCUS 
----------------------------------------- 
 
9. (C) Flor urged continued focus on the confidence building 
measures from the Bonn meeting, including a link with the 
Turkish diaspora, the opening of the port, and the return of 
internally displaced persons (IDPs.)  Arnault responded that 
the Georgian approach to the IDP issue has been ideological, 
demanding a return to all of Abkhazia without preconditions. 
He said a more measured, slower approach set out in a 2001 
declaration supporting a return to Gali in the first instance 
has been abandoned by the Georgian side.  He argued for the 
Georgians to adopt a practical solution and suggested one way 
for the Friends to help would be to ask the Georgians to come 
up with a realistic IDP strategy. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
10. (C) This meeting, which included Arnault, was a much more 
positive assessment of the situation than the one led by his 
deputy, Ivo Petrov, just two weeks before (reftel B).  Still, 
Khattak -- and by extension the UN's -- focus on the 
intricacies of checkpoints is at the heart of the complaints 
by the Georgians.  This issue is important and we will urge 
them to respond quickly and positively to the proposed format 
for the resumption of the QPMs, but at the same time, we need 
to press the UN to raise its sights to focus on the more 
strategic aspects of conflict resolution, including the 
return of IDPs and movement toward a political solution that 
resolves the conflict within Georgia.  We believe that absent 
some movement on the strategic front, it will become harder 
and harder to get Georgia to agree to confidence building 
measures as Georgia moves closer to Presidential and 
Parliamentary elections in 2008.  End comment. 
PERRY

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