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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI432 2009-03-05 14:30 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #0432/01 0641430
P 051430Z MAR 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 000432 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/24/2019 
     B. TBILISI 171 
     C. TBILISI 82 
     D. TBILISI 358 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
1.  (C)  Summary and comment.  UN Special Representative 
Verbeke has twice convened the British, French, German and 
U.S. chiefs of mission to brainstorm ideas for a new UN 
mission in Georgia.  Taking for granted the eventual closure 
of the OSCE mission, Verbeke argued that the UN and EUMM will 
need to coordinate, and implied that the UN should take the 
lead.  He did not offer a clear vision of that role, but has 
said the basic issues are no longer military, but political, 
and peacekeeping therefore need not be the primary focus. 
The general consensus in Tbilisi is that it will be difficult 
if not impossible to obtain another rollover of the mandate, 
and that therefore a new mandate would need to move beyond a 
purely military focus and facilitate cross-administrative 
boundary interactions and improvement of the human rights 
situation.  The British ambassador proposed establishing a UN 
presence throughout Georgia, including both Abkhazia and 
South Ossetia, and creating overlapping zones of operation 
for the UN and EUMM  The German Ambassador echoed the 
British plan on several specific points and raised 
longer-term concerns, such as control of the Sukhumi airport 
and port in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics.  FM Vashadze 
told the Ambassador March 2 that the MFA is also considering 
UNOMIG's future and is in the process of putting together a 
new draft resolution for possible consideration in New York. 
2.  (C)  Comment.  We appreciate Verbeke's initiative in 
raising the issue, but are concerned that he has 
underestimated continuing security concerns and that he may 
be too personally invested in giving the UN the lead.  The 
British and German proposals contain interesting ideas, but 
in our first reading seem too complicated to survive the 
negotiation process in New York or to work on the ground. 
The Georgians hope that by putting together a draft 
resolution, they can help frame the debate in New York.  We 
anticipate that key Allies and/or the Georgians may approach 
Washington policymakers over the next weeks to discuss a way 
ahead.  In our view, one alternative that might be worth 
exploring would be a law enforcement mission that builds 
capacity to provide security along the boundaries and to 
protect human rights.  End summary and comment. 
3.  (C)  At a February 23 meeting, UN Special Representative 
of the Secretary General Johan Verbeke initially offered a 
readout of his discussions at the February 17-18 Geneva 
talks.  He said that the Abkhaz de facto representatives in 
Geneva expressed anger that they were not more fully 
consulted on the language of UN Security Council Resolution 
1866.  He thought the Abkhaz were probably angry and 
frustrated that the Russians let them down.  In Verbeke's 
estimation, the resolution was favorable overall to the 
Russians, but the Abkhaz were particularly unhappy with 
paragraph 2.  (Note: Paragraph 2 of UNSCR 1866 calls for the 
security zones established under the 1994 Moscow agreement to 
be respected.  Also, in a February 11 meeting with PolOff, 
Abkhaz de facto foreign minister Shamba did not in principle 
object to a new UN mandate for Abkhazia, but insisted that it 
must not be called a mission in Georgia.  Although the text 
of UNSCR 1866 does not refer to Georgia, Shamba nevertheless 
objected even to preambular references to previous 
Qobjected even to preambular references to previous 
resolutions that refer to Georgia.  See also ref A.  End 
4.  (C)  Verbeke noted that UNSCR 1866 re-established a 
security zone from the Moscow agreement that was more 
restrictive -- essentially zero-tolerance for military 
personnel and equipment -- than the MoU recently signed 
between the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and the Georgian 
Ministry of Defense (refs B - D).  Thus there are currently 
two different standards for the Georgian side of the 
administrative boundary, while apparently no standard exists 
-- or is enforced -- on the Abkhaz side.  UNOMIG, for 
example, interprets that there are bans on overflights and on 
sea patrols, although the language is couched in terms of 
whether parameters were respected or not respected -- not in 
terms of violations per se.  In conversations in Geneva, 
Verbeke told U.S. officials he had pointed out these UNSCR 
1866-established restrictions, which also apply on the Abkhaz 
side of the boundary, to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister 
Karasin, who seemed taken aback.  Verbeke thought the 
TBILISI 00000432  002 OF 003 
Russians might not have realized the implications of the 
resolution for their own and Abkhaz forces, which are
within the security zone and would therefore seem to be in 
violation; he also suspected the Russians would dispute his 
interpretation of the language, arguing that 1866 does not in 
fact reimpose the same restrictions. 
5.  (C)  Verbeke underlined that thought should be given now 
as to how the new UN mission mandate would look -- no doubt, 
it would necessarily be drastically different.  He stressed 
that the Russians are particularly "legally minded people" 
and so any future international presence would need to stand 
on legal footing.  Verbeke did qualify though that no legal 
agreement would override the UN resolution.  Verbeke 
solicited ideas from those present, saying that countries' 
representatives in NY are busy handling daily crises, and 
thus far no thought had yet been given to what a future UN 
mandate would look like.  He stated his assumption that the 
OSCE role will be finished by the date of the new UN mission, 
and there will have to be one deal that can incorporate EUMM 
and UNOMIG.  If so, then the major question would be how the 
two organizations would cooperate.  Without saying so 
directly, Verbeke conveyed his own sense that the UN should 
play the lead role.  In separate conversations with U.S. 
officials, Verbeke has said that the ongoing security 
incidents around the Abkhaz administrative boundary are 
political in nature, not military, and so the UN presence in 
Georgia need not be a peacekeeping force. 
6.  (C) On February 23, British Ambassador Denis Keefe 
offered some initial thoughts on the possible scope of a new 
UN presence.  His proposal would create interlocking 
mechanisms for EUMM and UN so that monitoring zones would be 
overlapping and be defined so as to effectively cover the 
whole territory of Georgia, including Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia.  The idea would be to blur any concrete idea of a 
boundary, which would appeal to Georgians' sense of 
territorial integrity.  The implementing UNSCR would 
explicitly endorse the EUMM, and although he foresaw no OSCE 
presence, the plan would call on the UN to consult with both 
the OSCE and the EU.  There would be notification 
requirements of units/heavy equipment within te Abkhaz 
restricted zone, using the EUMM/GEO MOU as a model (refs B, 
C).  There would be a five party Incident Prevention 
Mechanism linked to a Code of Conduct of operation of 
checkpoints near the administrative boundary lines.  UN 
police support offices would provide training, investigation 
and reporting.  Some creative elements included giving the 
populations within certain zones the choice of which ID 
document to use, including possibly a UN-issued document, and 
giving the UN mission the authority to license schools within 
certain zones.  Keefe cautioned that these ideas were his 
own, but noted that he would be sharing them with London. 
7.  (C) German Ambassador Patricia Flor said on February 23 
that her government had already circulated and cleared at 
senior levels relevant proposals.  Although the German plan 
does not cover South Ossetia, on March 2 she noted the 
importance of considering South Ossetia in New York, 
considering the possible expiry of the OSCE mandate.  She saw 
several points of commonality with the British plan.  In 
particular, she said both would cover the following areas: 
freedom of movement across the administrative boundary line; 
Qfreedom of movement across the administrative boundary line; 
human rights monitoring (to include IDP returns, property 
rights, education); operating rules for the restricted zone 
beyond limitation of forces; linking any new mandate with 
strategy and tactical points outlined in the cease-fire 
agreement; balancing the delicate issue of getting 
information out of Abkhazia while also meeting the Georgian 
need to control information; and linking the EUMM to the UN 
mission in making decisions.  Flor stressed the need to 
broaden the possibilities of control, possibly to some kind 
of international body, even if in the end they would be 
negotiated away.  A specific example was control mechanisms 
for Sukhumi airport and seaport, if and when they ever 
re-open, which would be especially important in the run-up to 
the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. 
8.  (C)  At the March 2 meeting, the Ambassador pointed out 
that, as it considers options in New York, the international 
community must not lose sight of the fact that Russia, as one 
of the belligerents, is not a fair broker in the conflict. 
At the February 23 meeting, Charge noted the importance of 
balancing tactical objective with strategic goals.  While 
pursuing the immediate objective of improved security, the 
international community should take care not to compromise 
the larger principle of territorial integrity. 
TBILISI 00000432  003 OF 003 
9.  (C)  Although Verbeke is still formulating his ideas, he 
is proceeding from the assumptions that the OSCE will leave 
Georgia and the EUMM will never gain access to Abkhazia. 
Whether because of the UN's long-established presence in 
Georgia or his own personal stake in the mission's continued 
success, Verbeke clearly see his organization as the most 
important international presence in Georgia, and the one with 
which EUMM must coordinate, not vice versa.  His downplaying 
of the ongoing security incidents is troublesome; although 
the attacks clearly have a political purpose, they still 
represent a real security threat that maintains the area 
around Abkhazia in a state of instability.  The UN clearly 
has an important role to play, but so does the EUMM.  The 
British and German plans, while including several interesting 
ideas and laudable goals, seem too complicated to survive 
what will surely be a contentious negotiation in New York, 
not to mention actual implementation -- especially the 
British idea to expand the UN's mandate to all of Georgia. 
It seems to us that a somewhat less ambitious and more 
focused role for the UN than that envisaged by Verbeke, the 
British or the Germans is more likely to be acceptable in New 
York and to succeed on the ground.  It must provide for 
improvements in security, but it must go beyond that as well 
to repair the damaged relationships.  One possibility might 
be a law enforcement-focused mission, that would enable local 
law enforcement to provide a more secure environment, protect 
human rights, facilitate orderly boundary crossings, and 
eventually increase the frequency of cross-boundary 
cooperation.  Verbeke will want to discuss his ideas, and 
hear ours, during a proposed visit to Washington in the 
coming weeks (no date yet set).  We anticipate that key 
European Allies and our Georgian colleagues will also want to 
begin the discussion of what comes next for UNOMIG, well in 
advance of the June 15 expiration of the mandate. 


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