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Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

 

Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on the Ninth Round of the Geneva Discussions held on January 28, 2010

 

Ninth round of the Geneva talks was held on January 28, 2010 where the issues of security and stability in Georgia's occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region and the return of refugees and IDPs to the places of their habitual residence were discussed. Meetings of the two working groups were held, in which participants took part in an individual capacity. Head of the provisional administration of the former South Ossetian Autonomous District Dimitri Sanakoev and the Chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia Giorgi Baramia took part at the ninth round of the Geneva talks. Deliberations were moderated by UN, EU and OSCE and attended by representatives from Georgia, United States and the Russian Federation. Representatives of the proxy regimes also participated in the working groups.

Unfortunately, the ninth round of the discussions did not bring any results because of the rigid position of the Russian Federation. Moscow and its proxy regimes in Tskhinvali and Sokhumi are categorically against the document of the Co-Chairs on "Basic elements of a framework for an agreement on the non-use of force and international security arrangements" and the paper on "Interim Steps", which propose the concrete steps aimed at establishing international presence in the occupied territories. Moscow and its proxy regimes declared that the idea of international presence in the occupied territories was entirely unacceptable. This position distances them from the position of the international community and Georgia, and shows clearly that they are not interested in seriously engaging themselves in constructive discussions which would establish effective international presence and ensure effective implementation of the August 12 cease-fire agreement. We want to reiterate that it is extremely cynical and requires adequate international reaction that after having been requesting the conclusion of the non-use of force agreement with Georgia for quite a long period, Russia now resists the proposed documents. In contrast, Georgian side believes that despite the minimalistic approach of the Co-Chairs, these documents represent a step in a right direction and will be conducive to the establishment of effective international presence in the occupied territories.

Georgian participants once again raised the issue of the full implementation of the August 12 cease-fire agreement, and the unconditional withdrawal of the Russian forces from the occupied regions of Georgia. In the spirit of compromise Georgian side proposed a stage-by-stage withdrawal of Russian forces in a limited time-frame and their parallel replacement with international peacekeeping and police forces. This proposal does not endanger the role of the proxy regimes and, in our strong belief, provides an opportunity to move to a more substantial level of discussions. However, this position is not yet shared by Moscow and its proxy regimes in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. Currently there is no progress on these proposals despite the clear messages from all responsible participants of the Talks that strengthening of international presence is an imperative. Participants stressed on numerous occasions the necessity of access of the international organizations, and particularly the EU Monitoring Mission to the occupied territories as an essential element for maintaining the stability and transparency in the occupied regions.

It should be noted that the representatives of the EU Monitoring Mission once again rejected the unsubstantiated claims of the Russian participants on the alleged threat of attack from Georgia on the occupied regions. It was clear again that Russian Soviet type propaganda simply aims at further destabilizing the situation on the ground.

Georgian side and the co-moderators once again called upon Moscow and the Tskhinvali proxy regime to engage constructively in the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism, which is currently stalled because of incomprehensible boycott from Tskhinvali. Co-Chairs proposed a working session, which was aimed at discussing the document envisaging the resumption of the IPRM and solving procedural issues, which was unfortunately not attended by the representatives from Moscow and Tskhinvali. This also demonstrates the lack of interest in the resumption of the working dialogue on the local level aimed at the prevention of the further occurrence of the incidents.

During the Discussions the Co-Chairs underlined the position that the local residents should not be detained for crossing the occupation line. It is our strong position that the persons detained for crossing the dividing lines should be released immediately. Currently Tskhinvali proxy authorities are still holding ten citizens of Georgia, including the six local residents, who have been recently "convicted" for crossing the occupation line. Proxy authorities pledged to release these individuals to Commissioner Hammarberg almost a month ago.

In the Working Group II, participants continued to discuss a set of comprehensive measures proposed by the co-moderators aimed at undertaking joint steps for ensuring safe and dignified return of the IDPs and refugees to the places of their habitual residence. Here also, position of the proxy authorities and Moscow was extremely negative and cynical.

Those participants went as far as to question the fundamental right to safe and dignified return of the IDPs and refugees. Questioning of this right is even more cynical when it is done by those, who are responsible for and have condoned the atrocious acts of ethnic cleansing. This approach represents a vivid continuation of the decades long policy of Moscow aimed at stalling the process of return at all costs. We have to once again report that even though discussions will continue during the next rounds, regrettably it seems unlikely that substantial steps will be made with respect to the safe and dignified return of the IDPs, unless the Russian occupation forces and its proxy regimes revise their positions.

As during the previous rounds participants discussed the situation with regard to the provision of the basic utilities - water and gas to the war affected populations around the occupied Tskhinvali Region and in the occupied Akhalgori district. Some concrete projects and sequence of action was proposed by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, which was endorsed by Georgian side, but was again rejected by the representatives of the Tskhinvali proxy regime. Despite our willingness to overcome the differences in a mutually acceptable way and find a constructive consensus, we are becoming reassured that Moscow and its proxy authorities in Tskhinvali are not interested in the improvement of the livelihoods of those, who reside on the occupied territories. Neither are they interested in the improvement of the humanitarian situation on the ground, which is becoming a worrying trend as the population of this region continues to suffer.

Participants agreed to hold a tenth round of the Geneva Discussions on March 30, 2010.

 
 
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