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CYPRUS is the only European Union member-state which did not vote in favour of a UN resolution that recognised the right of return of all internally displaced persons and refugees and their descendants to their homes throughout Georgia, it emerged yesterday.

Cyprus was among 78 countries which abstained from voting – 48, including all EU countries voted in favour, 19 voted against.

The resolution was passed on Wednesday.

“Following extensive debate … the General Assembly today adopted a resolution that recognised the right of return of all internally displaced persons and refugees and their descendants to their homes throughout Georgia and that underlined the urgent need for unimpeded access for humanitarian activities to peoples residing in all conflict-affected areas in that country,” a UN media statement said.

The total number of people displaced by the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia over the South Ossetia breakaway region stood at 192,000, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

In the aftermath of the conflict, South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia and was recognised by Russia and Nicaragua.

The opposition criticised the government’s decision to abstain, saying it went against EU policy and effectively making Cyprus the black sheep of the bloc.

Quoted in daily Alithia, DISY deputy chairman Averof Neophytou said the issue was linked to the Cyprus problem since it concerned the efforts of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to break away after the invasion of Russian troops in 2008.

Neophytou said the Cyprus was trying not to annoy Russia, considered a traditional friend of Cyprus.

The government yesterday said the two cases were not the same.

“I want to say that a large number of countries took the same stance as the Republic of Cyprus and I think, through this position, everyone is satisfied,” government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said. “The two issues must not be put on the same level.”

Cyprus Mail, September 13, 2009|||Occupied Cyprus votes against Georgia refugees right of return
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