Geneva talks resume – main points of the Georgian, Russian delegations
After a break of almost a year, the Geneva International Discussions – the only negotiation format within the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts – were held again on December 10-11.
Representatives of Georgia, Russia and representatives of Sukhum/i and Tskhinval/i and international organizations took part.
However, as in previous times, none of the participants in the meeting was able to convince the others of their arguments.
The main topics of the 51st round were the aggravation of the security situation and humanitarian problems in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. But the parties focused on completely different aspects of the issues.
Georgia stated that Russia has intensified the de facto annexation of its two regions and also demanded the immediate release of the Georgian citizens illegally detained in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Russia and representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia insisted on discussing bilateral Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian agreements on the non-use of force. This topic has been a dead end for many years, since Georgia says that it can only sign such an agreement with Russia.
Details on the talks below.
The Geneva format of negotiations was created after the August 2008 war, when direct dialogue between Georgia and Russia ceased completely. This initiative was included in the ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008 as a platform for discussion of humanitarian issues.
Discussions in Geneva are held four times a year; they do not touch upon the political aspects of the conflicts, including the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
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Arguments and demands of the Georgian side
Agreement between Russia and Abkhazia
The Georgian Foreign Ministry says the Georgian side expressed indignation at a recent meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania on November 12, at which, according to Tbilisi, the issue of creating a ‘union state’ was discussed.
“These negotiations were regarded by Georgia as a decisive step by Russia towards the annexation of Abkhazia, which is a gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law.
Ethnic discrimination against Georgians remaining in the occupied territories was also noted. Russia is conducting a process of purposeful Russification of the population there,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Discrimination, arrests and murders of Georgian citizens
The Georgian delegation also raised the issue of illegal detentions and abductions of the local population and demanded the immediate release of Irakli Bebua, Zaza Gakheladze, Gennady Bestavi and other illegally detained citizens of Georgia.
There was also a demand to fairly investigate the murders of Georgian citizens David Basharuli, Gigi Otkhozoria, Archil Tatunashvili and Irakli Kvaratskhelia.
The meeting also discussed in detail the grave consequences of restricting freedom of movement across the contact line, which during the pandemic has led to fatal consequences.
“The Tskhinvali regime did not give permission for the evacuation of people for ethnic reasons, which led to the death of several local residents”, the Georgian Foreign Ministry. said
Demand to withdraw Russian troops from Georgian territory
The Georgian delegation makes this demand at each meeting within the framework of the Geneva talks, based on the Georgian-Russian agreement, which was signed on August 12, 2008.
Arguments and demands of the Russian side and representatives of Sukhum/i and Tskhinval/i
Non-use of force, threat of NATO activity
The report of the Russian Foreign Ministry following the meeting in Geneva speaks of “the importance of returning to work on an agreement on the non-use of force between Georgia and its neighbors – Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Such a document is of key importance for strengthening stability and security in the Transcaucasus.
Its relevance is especially growing given the increasing military activity of the United States and NATO in Georgia and in the region,” the statement says.
Russia claims that the situation in conflict zones is generally calm. According to Moscow, “further stabilization could be provided by the process of delimitation of the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-South Ossetian sections of the border with their subsequent demarcation.”
In Georgia, this process is called borderisation and the illegal seizure of territory, which deprives the local Georgian population of housing and land.
Access of official representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to the UN
The Russian delegation also reiterated that “the official representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia should get access to specialized international platforms, primarily the UN, when discussing topics related to the life of both republics.”
Georgia must stop lobbying for UN resolutions on refugees
Also, according to Moscow, “Georgia needs to abandon the promotion of the annual politicized resolution of the UN General Assembly on internally displaced persons and refugees.”
“This will help unblock the substantive consideration of these issues within the framework of the Geneva discussions,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The reports of both the Georgian and Russian Foreign Ministries speak of regrets that the other side again failed to demonstrate a constructive approach in discussing issues.
The next round of negotiations is tentatively scheduled for March 23-24, 2021.