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No agreement reached at Geneva talks

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, April 1
The tenth round of the Geneva talks held on March 29 ended with no result, like the previous nine, as the sides could only agree that the next round of negotiations will be held on June 8. However this round was distinguished by one thing: for the first time, the Georgian and Russian delegates shook hands with each other.

The Georgian delegation members said that the main issue they had raised was the security and humanitarian problems in the breakaway regions. They said that Moscow had continued to block the deployment of international monitors in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The sides also failed to agree on the signing of a non-use of force document, as the Russian side demanded that such an agreement be signed between Tbilisi, Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. Georgia maintains that it should be signed between Tbilisi and Moscow. Russia’s “stiff” and “aggressive” position will never be able to change the position of the Georgian side, Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia Giga Bokeria said after the negotiations. “We will carry on discussing the problems on Georgia’s occupied territories at this tribune and in such a context,” Bokeria stated.

Analyst in conflict issues Gocha Gvaramia says that Russia has already signed a document on the non-use of force as a side of the Georgian conflict. “This document was signed in Moscow in 1994. It was clearly written in the agreement that the signatory sides were Russia and Georgia. Representatives of the legitimate and the separatist Governments of Abkhazia confirmed with their signatures that they agreed with the document,” the analyst told The Messenger.

Gvaramia suggested that currently Russia is trying to start from a “blank page”. “They are now trying to get a document signed which does not present Moscow as a side of the conflict,” he said “One thing that the Georgian side can do is present to the international community the non-use of force documents previously signed between Georgia and Russia, where Russia is presented as a side. The international community should also be informed that all these documents have been violated by the Russian side,” the analyst added.

The Kazakh OSCE Chairmanship described the tenth round of Geneva discussions as a “further important step” in decreasing existing tensions in the South Caucasus region. “Although the situation was assessed as relatively stable, it was noted that tensions continue to appear and that provocative actions and rhetoric are a matter of concern,” a statement by Geneva talks co-mediator Bolat Nurgaliyev of the OSCE reads. Local incidents should be addressed through the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism, the Co-Chairs stated.

“Lack of dialogue on the ground can cause additional tensions,” Nurgaliyev said. “It is regrettable that the IPRM has not met since last October. We call for the full resumption of the mechanism,” he added.

Meanwhile the Georgian side released six ethnic Ossetian detainees on March 29-30. All were arrested after the August war. De facto Tskhinvali officials had been demanding their release for several months. One of the freed detainees is a woman. Khatuna Charaeva, resident of the Akhalgori region, had been arrested last December in Tbilisi accused of selling counterfeit dollars.

In return the de facto South Ossetian authorities released one ethnic Georgian detainee. Mamuka Samkharadze had been detained on “illegal border crossing” charges. According to Tbilisi officials 13 ethnic Georgian detainees remain in Tskhinvali prison.