Another Geneva talks round has failed. Tbilisi blames Russia, Russia blames the pandemic
The next 51st round of Georgian-Russian negotiations was supposed to take place in Geneva on October 6-7, but the meeting fell through. Tbilisi blames Moscow for this, as the Russian delegation said it could not attend the meeting.
The Foreign Ministry of Georgia issued a special statement, which says that Tbilisi is “concerned” about the cancellation of the meeting, since important humanitarian issues were to be discussed in Geneva.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, in a special statement, expressed concern about the disruption of the next round of negotiations.
The reason for the failure of the talks scheduled for October 6-7 was that not all participants were able to attend the discussion.
The statement notes that “considering the aggravated security and humanitarian situation in Georgia’s occupied territories, according to the decision by the Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions, the 51st Round was planned and agreed to be held on 6-7 October this year in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Tbilisi believes that the disruption of this meeting will negatively affect the people living in the occupied regions and their daily life:
“Such kind of steps are undermining the entire peace process, and impede the Georgian Government’s and international community’s efforts to solve the problems of the conflict effected population,” the statement said.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry calls on the international co-chairing organizations of the Geneva International Talks – the European Union, the UN and the OSCE – to take concrete measures to resume work in the Geneva format.
“Georgia’s accusations on disrupting the negotiation process with Russia are groundless and politicized,” TASS quotes the press secretary of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova.
“We are surprised by the statement of the Georgian Foreign Ministry on October 6. We consider the accusation against us groundless and politicized,” Zakharova said.
According to her, the decision to refrain from holding the next round of talks on October 6-7 was made not only by Russia, but also by the delegations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, given the serious restrictions and logistical problems caused by the pandemic.
What is the Geneva format
• Following the August 2008 war, direct dialogue between Georgia and Russia ceased. In accordance with the ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008, a Geneva talks format was created, where Russia and Georgia, together with representatives of Sukhumi and Tskhinvali and representatives of international organizations, would discuss various humanitarian issues.
• Before the Abashidze-Karasin format of Georgian-Russian negotiations was created after the current ruling Georgian Dream party came to power, Geneva was the only place where Tbilisi and Moscow spoke.
• Geneva talks are held four rounds a year.
• The Geneva format does not address the political aspects of the conflict. That is, the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and other political issues are not discussed here.
• The Geneva International Talks are held in two parallel working groups:
The first group discusses security issues (for example, reaching an agreement on the non-use of force between Russia and Georgia, creating international security mechanisms in the occupied regions of Georgia);
The second group discusses the situation of internally displaced persons and their return. This group also addresses important humanitarian issues related to people living in the occupied territories (for example, education in their native language, protection of cultural heritage, free movement of people across the administrative lines, health of people living in the occupied territories, criminal cases, human rights, etc.)
• Apart from Georgia and Russia, the Geneva talks are attended by US representatives and co-chairs from the OSCE, EU and UN. Representatives of Tskhinvali and Sukhumi also take part in the discussions.