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
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
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
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
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.