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Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on the 21th round of the Geneva International Discussions
10:32 13.10.2012
Day News

The Foreign Affairs Ministry released a special statement regarding the 21st round of the Geneva International Discussions held on October 11, 2012, where issues of security and stability in Georgia's occupied regions of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region and the other on issues related to the safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees to the places of their original residence were discussed.

The discussions were co-chaired by the representatives of the UN, the EU and the OSCE and attended by the participants from Georgia, the Russian Federation and the United States. The 21st Round of the Discussions was attended by the elected members of the Parliamentary majority Mr. Paata Zakareishvili and Mr. George Volski. The participants from Georgia stressed their shared commitment to the Geneva International Discussions and highlighted the importance of continuity of the process. The Head of the Provisional Administration of the former South Ossetian Autonomous District and the Chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia as well as representatives of the proxy regimes from Tskhinvali and Sokhumi also took part in the 21th round of the Geneva Discussions.

On October 10, the information session on missing persons was held. Invited experts from Ireland's Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains acquainted the participants with the historical context of establishment, unique institutional arrangements and functioning of the Commission. Drawing on specific case studies they demonstrated the operational techniques and specific ways in which the Commission manages to implement its strictly humanitarian mandate by keeping its investigations separate from those of the justice system.

In the framework of the Working Group I of the Discussions, the participants addressed the issue of non-use of force. Georgia has once again called on Russia to fulfill its outstanding obligation and to reciprocate Georgia's unilateral pledge not to use force. Following the discussion an expert group was tasked to review a proposal tabled by the co-chairs based on earlier suggestions by the participants from Georgia and Russian Federation. The drafting session identified that concern for ensuring security and stability is shared, although there are a number of areas where the differences of opinions persist. The Georgian side has stressed that the drafting session is an important step in the right direction and called other participants for constructive and paced out discussion of outstanding issues.

The co-chairs will submit the adjusted document for the review of participants at the 22nd Round of Geneva Discussions.

Within Working Group I participants from Georgia also raised concern over the continued obstruction by the proxy regime in Sokhumi of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM). Georgia underlined the importance of timely resumption of the IPRM, which represents the crucial tool for addressing the security concerns on the ground. Unfortunately, despite the constructive proposals of Georgian side, shared by the co-chairs, the Head of the EUMM, General Andrzej Tyszkiewicz is still refused access to occupied Abkhazia.

During the session, co-chairs commended Georgia for the restraint shown during the recent Russian military exercises in the region. The co-chairs noted with concern that prior to the Parliamentary elections in Georgia, a military build-up was observed close to the occupation line inside the Tskhinvali region that was unprecedented since 2008. The co-chairs therefore appealed to the participants to ensure transparency of their military movements.

The participants discussed the security situation on the ground. Participants from Georgia strongly protested against the multiple cases of illegal incursion into the Georgian air-space by the Russian aircraft during the last several months.

The representatives of the occupation regimes of Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, as well as Moscow made a concerted effort to initiate the change of format of the Geneva Discussions both in terms of upgrade of the status of the participants to that of Delegations and in terms of subordinating the humanitarian agenda of the Working Group II to the status-driven political discussions.

Representatives of Georgia and the co-chairs stressed the vital importance of keeping the agreed format of Geneva Discussions intact. They also pointed out that humanitarian and human rights issues can and must be addressed in a process that is separate from the eventual political agreement.

The participants from Georgia stressed the importance of ensuring the Freedom of Movement across the occupation line, which is one of the key concerns for the populations affected by the conflict. The recent cases of restrictions placed on the ethnic Georgian residents in Gali district, specifically regarding the access to education, were noted with grave concern by Georgia.

The progress remained elusive in the Working Group II on the issues related to the return of the IDPs and refugees. The participants from Sokhumi and Tskhinvali continued to block the discussion on these core humanitarian issues. The proposal of Georgia on facilitating humanitarian access of certain categories of residents to graves, cultural and religious sites on the other side of the occupation line, which had been submitted during the previous round of the Discussions, was left unanswered.

In the framework of the Working Group II, the Participants from Georgia shared with the co-chairs the factual data on the violation of the human rights of the residents of the occupied territories, including the right to education in native language, freedom from persecution and arbitrary detention, and freedom of movement. Particular grave concern was voiced regarding the media statements by Mr. Leonid Tibilov concerning the planned destruction of the remnants of the Georgian villages. Calls were made to allow international monitoring of the human rights situation on the ground. The co-facilitators referred to the need to send a positive signal to vulnerable populations by making explicit the commitment of all sides to the key humanitarian and human rights principles.

The 22nd round of the Geneva International Discussions will be held in December 2012.

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Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on the 21th round of the Geneva International Discussions
Participants from Georgia strongly protested against the multiple cases of illegal incursion into the Georgian air-space by the Russian aircraft during the last several months.
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