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Moscow lists its agenda for upcoming Geneva talks

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, January 25
The status of Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia cannot be discussed at the Geneva negotiations, Deputy Georgian Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria said on January 22 in response to a statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the status of the two de facto republics was being discussed during the Geneva talks.

“After we put down the aggression the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan was worked out. [At that point] we offered to discuss at those international talks in Geneva not only security issues but also the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We offered this on our own initiative. We did not have any plans to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia unilaterally,” Lavrov told journalists at a press briefing on Friday, RIA Novosti reported.

The status of Georgia’s breakaway regions has already been identified and will not be reconsidered, Bokeria said. “This issue can be discussed neither in Geneva nor in any other format, as the abovementioned territories are part of Georgia, and this issue has never been raised at the Geneva talks,” Bokeria said, adding that “the Geneva negotiations started after the actual annexation of Georgia’s territories.”

With less then a week remaining to the ninth round of Geneva talks the Russian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement listing the priority issues the Russian side wants to discuss. Russia will “insist on” the necessity of the signing of non-use of force documents between Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry reads. “In conditions of continuous military rhetoric from Tbilisi, calls from the Georgian Government to restore Georgia’s territorial integrity at any price and the increasing Georgian military presence and manoeuvres close to the Abkhazian and South Ossetian borders, the issue of giving Sukhumi and Tskhinvali firm security guarantees gains even more significance,” the Russian MFA said.

Moscow also called for the resolution of the problem of the “remilitarisation” of Georgia. “This may again lead to aggravating the situation in the Transcaucasus,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “All responsible participants of international relations should understand the disastrous results of adopting double standards towards Georgia, especially when it comes to providing Georgia with modern arms and military techniques,” the document reads. “The hastened rearmament of the current adventurous regime in Tbilisi will cause a new wave of tensions and new threats to the neighbouring states, first of all to Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” it continues.

Tbilisi will sign a non-use of force document only with Russia and not with de facto Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgian lawmakers said in response to the Russian Foreign Ministry's statement. “Georgia and Russia are the sides of this conflict,” Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Relations, MP Giorgi Kandelaki, said. Georgian Reintegration Minister Temur Yakobashvili also reiterated that Tbilisi is not planning to sign a pact on non-use of force with its breakaway regions. “So called Abkhazia and South Ossetia are occupied territories, and signing any kind of agreement with them would be awkward and strange,” Yakobashvili said. Georgia has long ago expressed its position on this issue, he added. “At the next round of Geneva talks we will once again repeat to the Russian side: Russia is an occupational force, South Ossetia and Abkhazia do not exist as independent entities. They are occupied territories, and signing any documents with them would be strange. I do not understand why the Russians keep repeating the same thing again and again,” Yakobashvili said.

The ninth round of the EU, UN and OSCE-mediated talks in Geneva is planned for January 28.