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Geneva 9th round

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, January 26
The 9th round of Geneva talks are to be held on January 28. The Russian side is stubbornly trying to achieve the result it wants, cheat the international community and force Georgia to sign a bilateral agreements with Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the non-use of force. This ploy puts Georgia in a no-win situation. If Georgia doesn't sign the agreements Moscow will say that Georgia has aggressive intent, but if it does it will thereby acknowledge Abkhazia and South Ossetia as equal juridical entities and thus indirectly recognise them as independent states.

After eight rounds of Geneva talks there have been no serious results. Once again Russia is trying to achieve its goals by issuing an ultimatum, demanding that Tbilisi give firm guarantees of security. It is also highlighting that Georgia is being "rearmed" and warning of the "threat" of Georgia's military rhetoric to the huge Russian Army which controls the occupied territories. Moscow’s position is quite clear. It is trying to achieve the recognition of the occupied territories as independent states, step by step, using diplomatic, military and economic means to achieve this.

The Georgian leadership has to pursue a consistent and well balanced policy. Minister of Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili has called the Russian position cynical and not serious. He has told Moscow that before it starts negotiating and asking for security guarantees it should withdraw its military contingent from the occupied territories. As for the training and re-equipping of the Georgian armed forces this is being done transparently, and the EU monitoring mission is allowed to observe all such activities. Yakobashvili added that this is the same Russia which has occupied Georgian territory, there are no such independent entities as Abkhazia and South Ossetia and it is absolutely unacceptable for a sovereign country to sign any kind of agreement with parts of its own territory which are temporarily occupied.

Analysts have various opinions. Mamuka Areshidze thinks that a direct and straightforward refusal to sign an agreement on the non-use of force will be seen negatively in the international arena. Professor of International Law Levan Aleksidze however thinks that the Georgian side should not sign any document in which Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are treated as equal entities, as the ramifications of doing this could last for a long time.

Most analysts think that it is unlikely that the 9th round of Geneva talks will yield any positive results at all, least of all for Georgia. The main issue however is that the negotiations should be conducted in a way which prevents Russia gaining a propaganda advantage from them. Georgian diplomats should be well aware of the threat and complications which will ensue if Russia achieves its goal even partially.