09TBILISI942, GEORGIA: SERIOUS CONCERNS ABOUT UN REPORT ON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI942 2009-05-20 14:09 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9084
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0942/01 1401409
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 201409Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1596
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0225
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4843
RUEHUNV/UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 4032

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 000942 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/20/2019 
TAGS: PREL MOPS KBTS RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SERIOUS CONCERNS ABOUT UN REPORT ON 
ABKHAZIA 
 
REF: A. USUN 491 
     B. STATE 4Q27 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and comment.  The Georgian Government has made 
clear, both publicly and privately, its discontent with the 
UN Secretary General (UNSYG)'s report on Abkhazia, Georgia. 
It perceives both the title and key elements of the report's 
substance as a capitulation to Russian pressure, as evidenced 
by the May 18 walkout of the Geneva talks.  In a public 
statement, Foreign Minister Vashadze stated his 
dissatisfaction with what he called a compromise text, 
noting, however, that the language was not a victory for 
Russia either.  Abkhaz de facto "foreign minister" Shamba 
trumpeted the report as a success of the May 18 tactics. 
Georgian press outlets portrayed the report as a Russian 
victory at Georgia's expense, and opposition leader Nino 
Burjanadze portrayed it as a failure of Georgian diplomacy. 
However the UNSYG and his staff determined the final version 
of the report, the Georgians clearly perceive this as the UN 
yielding to Russian pressure.  The Georgians believe that the 
Russians and their proxies have effectively used Geneva to 
blackmail the UN itself.  End summary and comment. 
 
GOVERNMENT: DISSATISFIED IN PUBLIC, OUTRAGED IN PRIVATE 
 
2. (SBU) In public comments aired on national TV, Georgian 
Foreign Minister Vashadze expressed concern over elements of 
the UNSYG's report on Abkhazia, Georgia (released to UN 
Security Council members on May 18 under the title "The 
Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council 
resolutions 1808, 1839, and 1866").  Although he noted some 
"positive elements," such as a reference to the current 
mission by its full name (United Nations Observer Mission in 
Georgia) in the first paragraph of the text, he suggested 
that other elements were "obviously included as a result of 
pressure by Russia."  In particular he noted that the entire 
report, including the title, never uses the phrase "Abkhazia, 
Georgia."  Overall he called the report a compromise, 
explaining that he was "not very satisfied" with that 
compromise, but that it could also "not be a source of 
satisfaction for Moscow" either.  He also noted that the 
government had not completed its detailed examination of the 
recently received text and might have more comments later. 
In conclusion, Vashadze promised that "Georgia will never 
allow Russia to legitimize two virtual Bantustans, which 
Russia has created on Georgian territory," and suggesting 
that "Russia's goal is clear -- to kill the UN mission, like 
it did with the OSCE mission, as Russia does not want to have 
witnesses of violations of commitments." 
 
3. (C) Intentionally or not, Vashadze confused the public 
discussion of the report somewhat by calling the text a 
"preliminary version."  (According to a UNOMIG staff member, 
the text is final, but has only been released to UN Security 
Council members pending its formal publication.)  He also 
made reference to Security Council action due by June 15, 
seeming to conflate the publication of a final version of the 
report with a new UNSC resolution, which would be required by 
June 15 to establish a new UN mandate for Georgia before the 
expiry of the current mandate.  (Note: It is possible that 
Vashadze was trying to downplay the negative signifiance of 
QVashadze was trying to downplay the negative significance of 
the report by suggesting that UNSC action could correct its 
deficiencies.  End Note.)  In TV interviews, Deputy FM 
Bokeria also noted the importance of the June 15 date, which 
could suggest the Georgian strategy will now be to focus on 
the text of a possible UNSC resolution.  Even so, both 
Vashadze and Bokeria made it clear they were not happy with 
the report. 
 
4. (C) In private comments to U.S. delegates at the Geneva 
talks on May 19, Bokeria and Deputy Reintegration Minister 
David Rakviashvili deplored the report, seeing it as a 
capitulation to Russian, South Ossetian and Abkhaz theatrics 
in Geneva on May 18 and a real threat to Georgia's 
territorial integrity.  (Note: On May 18, at the first of two 
scheduled days of the fifth round of Geneva talks, the Abkhaz 
de facto representatives did not appear, because the UN 
report, originally scheduled for release on May 15, had not 
yet been issued.  After the co-chairs' initial remarks, the 
South Ossetian de facto representatives then announced they 
could not participate in a session without their Abkhaz 
counterparts and left the room; the Russian representatives 
then followed suit.  End Note.)  Both noted specific elements 
 
TBILISI 00000942  002 OF 003 
 
 
that served to lend additional support to Abkhaz and South 
Ossetian so-called "sovereignty," thereby undermining 
Georgia's territorial integrity, and to legitimize
 the 
Russian military presence in Georgia.  Bokeria echoed, for 
example, Vashadze's concern about the complete lack of the 
phrase "Abkhazia, Georgia."  He also objected to the proposed 
element of a future security regime in paragraph 64(h) -- 
"Transparency arrangements, including access and provision of 
information, with regard to the military installations in 
Senaki and Ochamchira" -- because it seems to suggest that 
the two bases are equal in status and legitimacy.  The 
phrases "Georgian and Abkhaz sides and key international 
stakeholders" and "Georgian and South Ossetian sides, as well 
as representatives of the Defense Ministry of the Russian 
Federation, OSCE and EU" in paragraphs 4 and 6 respectively, 
seemed to both Bokeria and Rakviashvili to suggest that 
Russia is not party to the conflict, but only a 
disinterested, even responsible third party. 
 
5. (C) Bokeria had more fundamental concerns than the text of 
the report.  Right after the Russians and South Ossetians 
walked out on May 18, Bokeria said that, if the UN report did 
not refer to the "Situation in Abkhazia, Georgia," everyone 
would perceive the walkout as a successful bit of blackmail. 
He noted that this would be the perception even if the title 
had been decided before the walkout, because no one would 
know exactly how the UNSYG made his final decision.  Bokeria 
also pointed out that the Russians and their proxy states 
were effectively using the Geneva process (or would be seen 
by the world to be using it) to influence the work of the 
mighty United Nations, of which Abkhazia and South Ossetia 
are not members -- something the Geneva process was of course 
not meant to do. 
 
ABKHAZ: PLEASED AS PUNCH 
 
6. (SBU) The Russian radio program Ekho Moskvy quoted Abkhaz 
de facto "foreign minister" Sergey Shamba as saying that the 
Abkhaz tactic of boycotting the first day of talks in Geneva 
achieved its objective.  He suggested that the boycott helped 
convince the UN to omit references that would suggest that 
Abkhazia is still part of Georgia, seeing this as evidence 
that the international community is beginning to perceive 
Abkhazia's status as qualitatively altered.  "It can be said 
that, to a certain degree, we have achieved what we wanted . 
. .  We wanted to test the international community and see 
whether it would be prepared to take the real situation into 
account or it would continue being hostage to the old 
stereotypes.  Today we saw that there is hope that they will 
mend their ways," he was quoted as saying. 
 
GEORGIAN PRESS AND OPPOSITION: NOT IMPRESSED 
 
7. (SBU) The developments seemed to take Georgian 
commentators by surprise.  Georgian media outlets, including 
TV and print outlets from across the political spectrum, 
portrayed the report as a Russian victory.  They also 
criticized the UN for lowering its standards in the face of 
Russian pressure.  Some in turn went on to criticize the 
government for allowing this to happen.  Opposition leader 
Nino Burjanadze held a press conference to make this 
accusation, calling the episode a failure of Georgian 
diplomacy and blaming the government for losing international 
Qdiplomacy and blaming the government for losing international 
support. 
 
COMMENT: PERCEPTION IS MORE THAN REALITY 
 
8. (C) We, of course, cannot get inside the minds of the UN 
drafters, in particular the UNSYG himself, who reportedly 
made the final decision on the title himself.  Whether they 
bowed to Russian pressure or not (suggested ref A), however, 
the perception in Georgia is clearly that the Russian (and 
Abkhaz and South Ossetian) tactics won.   Furthermore, 
Shamba's statement indicates the de factos are only too happy 
to take credit for their tactical victory.   Vashadze's final 
comments -- which move away from the report itself to more 
general themes of protecting Georgia's territorial integrity 
-- indicate the government is now regrouping to determine how 
to minimize the damage.  One question the Georgians are now 
asking themselves is whether the Geneva process is more 
dangerous than helpful.  Although the U.S. and other 
delegationsconvinced Bokeria not to boycott day 2 of Geneva, 
in order to avoid being blamed for a complete breakdown of 
the process, it is hard to argue that the benefits of the 
Geneva process, which have been minimal to this point, have 
 
TBILISI 00000942  003 OF 003 
 
 
outweighed the costs so far.   Not only has Geneva given the 
de factos a respectable platform, but it has possibly enabled 
them to twist fundamental international organizations and 
processes to advance their own agenda. 
TEFFT

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