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More international talks end without result

By Temuri Kiguradze
Friday, November 13
The eighth round of international discussions in Geneva concerning the conflicts in Georgia ended on November 11 without any progress being made. The Georgian side reported that the only outcome of the meeting was an agreement that the next meeting would take place in late January 2010.

One of the main topics discussed at Geneva was a non-aggression treaty between the parties to the conflict. The Kremlin proposed that Georgia sign this treaty with the separatist Abkhazian and South Ossetian authorities, but Georgia insist on developing an agreement with Russia with corresponding international security guarantees.

“Russia does not want international involvement in this process; it does not want the international community to act as a guarantor of the non-use of force,” Sergi Kapanadze, head of the Georgian Foreign Ministry’s Department for International Organisations, told RFE/RL soon after the meeting.

Another issue on the agenda was the increased number of detentions of Georgian citizens taking place at the administrative borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Particular attention was paid to the case of four Georgian teenagers still imprisoned in Tskhinvali. The Georgian side accused the Russian and de facto South Ossetian authorities of violating previous agreements and showing an unwillingness to cooperate with the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) created at an earlier Geneva meeting to reduce tensions on the administrative borders.

“The Co-Moderators shared the extreme concern of the Georgian side on this outrageous issue, which requires immediate resolution. Unfortunately the Russian occupation forces and the proxy authorities of Tskhinvali continue to disregard the commitments they undertook within the framework of the IPRM to allow the free crossing of the occupation line by local residents. In order to prevent such incidents happening in the future the Co-Moderators distributed a document outlining their views on how movement across the occupation line might be regulated. This document will be discussed at the next Geneva meeting. They also distributed a document on joint visits within the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism framework and called on the participants to explore all the opportunities provided by the IPRM in order to avoid such incidents in the future,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a special statement published on November 12.

The Russian side in its turn accused Georgia of a “continuation of its aggressive policy” against its breakaway regions. Russian Deputy Foreign Ministry Grigory Karasin, who represented the Russian side at the discussions, said that he disagreed with the assessment of the international mediators. He claimed that Georgia had renewed the sending of unmanned aerial surveillance drones over Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Co-Chairs of the talks, representatives from the EU, OSCE and UN, said in a joint statement after the meeting that the participants had discussed the basic elements of a framework for an agreement related to the non-use of force and international security arrangements. “The discussion was based on elements prepared by the Co-Chairs following consultations, including contributions provided by participants since the previous round of Geneva discussions. Participants agreed that the elements form a good basis for further discussion. The Co-Chairs will continue to work on these elements ahead of the next round,” the international mediators said. They added that during the meeting the participants “exchanged views” on the report of the Independent International Fact Finding Commission on the Conflict in Georgia, led by Heidi Tagliavini, on the causes of the August war. “Participants agreed that the report contained useful lessons to draw on which would contribute to building a more stable future,” the EU, OSCE and UN representatives said.

The meetings in Geneva were launched on 15 October 2008, in accordance with the 12 August ceasefire agreement brokered by the French Presidency of the EU which ended the August Russian-Georgian war. The discussions are attended by representatives of the UN, OSCE, EU, Georgia, Russia and the USA.