A ‘pleasant surprise’ is how Georgian experts described the actions of the Armenian delegation during the UN General Assembly’s 73rd session.
Armenian diplomats at the UN have for the first time since 2008 abstained from voting on a resolution on Georgian refugees from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In recent years, Armenia had always voted against this Georgian initiative, inviting harsh criticism from Tbilisi’s political leadership and policy circles.
Political scientist Giorgi Gobronidze believes that after this move by the Armenian delegation, the mood inside Georgia may change. “This is definitely a positive feat as Armenia constantly voted against Georgia’s initiative over the past ten years. In doing so, Armenia, on the one hand, demonstrated its loyalty to [Moscow] by not coming out against the anti-Russian resolution. On the other hand, by not opposing the resolution proposed by the Georgian side, Armenia demonstrated a pragmatic approach – one that primarily emerges from the unresolved issues of the Karabakh conflict. This time, by not participating in the vote, Armenia simultaneously avoided Russia’s possible dissatisfaction while refraining from [criticizing] a segment of Georgian society.”
79 UN member states voted in favor of the resolution on the Status of Internally Displaced Persons submitted by Georgia. 15 states voted against, including Russia, Belarus, Venezuela, Syria, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar. 57 states abstained.
“The document condemns forced demographic changes in Georgia’s [occupied] regions and reaffirms the right of all refugees to return to their homes. This document also has a practical component. It instructs the UN Secretary-General to prepare a special report on refugee status in Georgia every year”, Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani said at a press conference in Tbilisi.