A regular round of Geneva International Discussions on security and stability in the South Caucasus has not brought about any agreement on the non-use of force in the region, Russia’s State Secretary, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told TASS on Wednesday.
“For more than three hours and a half, we have been discussing a joint statement on non-use of force,” he said. “We nearly come to approve it.”
“However, one of the sides needed hours attempting to agree it,” the diplomat added. “Unfortunately, no such approval followed.”
Karasin added that “artificial politicized exercises at international platforms which hamper real progress in concrete issues” should be stopped so as to achieve tangible progress at the talks.
“This has its effect as the second group (within the discussions) has not started yet to consider the refugee issue since Georgia’s annual resolutions submitted to the UN General Assembly are well-known to everyone,” the diplomat said. “Therefore, our Abkhazian counterparts said directly that discussions on refugees and internally displaced persons are possible only on an equal basis and with participation of all sides, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia, at all international platforms.”
“Until this happens, the question of these discussions in the second group in Geneva has few prospects,” Karasin underscored.
Blow on atmosphere at talks
The current round of discussions was held in a nervous atmosphere following attempts to dismantle the monument to Abkhaz fighters, who were killed in the 1992-1993 war, in the Scottish town of Kilmarnock at Tbilisi’s request.
The attempt “was absolutely unreasoned and professionally inadequate and aroused a wave of indignation in Abkhazia, as well as in Russia,” Karasin said.
“Luckily, Scotland had backtracked on the incident, the monument was returned to its place, but the fur at the negotiation table started to fly,” he said. “The atmosphere of Geneva meetings suffered a sensitive blow.”
The Geneva Discussions on security and stability in the South Caucasus are the only platform for a dialogue between Georgia and the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. They are held under the auspices of the UN, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) with participation of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Georgia, Russia and the United States. The latest round of talks took place in early October.
The Geneva Discussions were held upon agreements reached by the Russian and French presidents after tragic events in August 2008 in South Ossetia when Georgia attacked it. That entailed Russia’s peacemaking operation in the region. Afterwards, Moscow recognized independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia’s allies Nicaragua and Venezuela followed the suit, as did a number of small Pacific island states.
Press Communiqué of the Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions
GENEVA, Switzerland, 13 December 2017 – The 42nd round of the Geneva International Discussions has just concluded.
In Working Group I, the participants reviewed the overall situation on the ground and assessed it as relatively calm and stable. The participants continued discussions on the topic of non-use of force. They conducted extensive consultations on a joint statement and agreed to continue work toward its finalisation. Several other issues were also addressed, including detentions, access to farmland and transparency on military activities. In this context, the participants commended the work of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms, including the use of the hotlines.
In Working Group II, the participants discussed the impact on people’s livelihoods of recent environmental challenges, obstacles to the freedom of movement as well as possible mitigating measures. Furthermore, property rights, personal documentation, education and irrigation-related issues were discussed. The participants welcomed plans for further work by an OSCE-commissioned independent expert on a case of missing persons. The participants also exchanged views on disaster risk reduction in follow-up to an information session held on the preceding day. Due to long-standing divergent approaches to the issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs)/refugees, it was again impossible to complete discussion of all agenda items. In this context, the Co-Chairs regretted the walkout of some participants that led to a disruption of this round.
The participants agreed to hold the next round on 27-28 March 2018.