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As UN Council Meets on Georgia, Pandora's Box Is Open, Kosovo's Ghosts

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, August 28 --  As the Security Council met on Georgia on Thursday's afternoon, Pandora's box was open and on display. Outside the Security Council, UK Ambassador John Sawers tried to distinguish Russia's recognition of South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's declarations of independence from his and some other European Union countries' recognition of Kosovo earlier this year, over the objections of Serbia and Russia. We tried for ten years to solve Kosovo within Serbia's borders, Sawers said, adding that Russia took action on South Ossetia and Abkhazia "in three weeks." 

   Some point out that both areas have been out of Georgia's administrative control since the early 1990s, with the UN Observer Mission in Georgia in place since 1993. It is true, however, that the conflicts un-froze suddenly this summer, opening Pandora's box.

   Russia's Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, on his way into the Security Council's 3 p.m. meeting called by Georgia, recounted how the U.S. had blocked an Abkhaz representative seeking a visa in April 2007 to travel to the UN in New York, alleged saying the visa would be granted if language of a resolution under consideration in the Council were changed. I don't control Russia, the Abkhaz Foreign Minister replied.  At the time, Inner City Press asked if a complaint would be filed with the General Assembly's Committee on Relations with the Host Country. The answer was yes, but it appears the complaint was never filed. (The Host Country committee has since moved to close its meetings to the Press.)

UK Amb. Sawers at UN, Kosovo's ghost and Pandora's box not shown

    Sudan's Ambassador, speaking to Inner City Press outside the Council, said that the conflict and controversy in Georgia helps take the pressure off his country. Inner City Press asked if Sudan will be recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. That depends on how the Kosovo dossier works out, he answered. Inner City Press asked if Sudan will be supporting Serbia's request that the General Assembly ask for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence.  Yes, Sudan supports that, he said.

   The UN confirmed on Thursday that its previous Western Sahara mediator has not had his mandate extended. Will Russia recognize the independence of Western Sahara? Of Kashmir? When will Cuba, Syria and others join Russia in recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Pandora's box is open...

   The Security Council meeting because with briefings on UNOMIG, and speeches by Georgia and Russia. France said it would like to send human rights monitors; South Africa said, among other things, that the Abkhaz and South Ossetians should be able to attend.

Update of 4:29 p.m. -- U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff says Russia has "violated the integrity of the Security Council" by going through a security zone in Abkhazia patrolled by UNOMIG, and that Russia should allow the full [re] deployment of UNOMIG. Good luck.

Update of 4:50 p.m. -- Russia's Vitaly Churkin lashed out at perceived hypocrisy on NATO's 1999 bombing of Serbia, and the 2008 recognitions of Kosovar independence, from the U.S. to (even) Costa Rica. He said, however, Russia will holds to the Six Principles of the Sarkozy Agreement. He reminded the Council of Russia's draft resolution, saying he doesn't understand why "colleagues" don't vote for it.

Watch this site. And this (on South Ossetia), this, on Russia-Georgia, and this --


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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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