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IPRM meetings resume

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, November 1

Participants of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meeting held on October 28 in the village of Ergneti, at the administrative border between Georgia and de facto South Ossetia, hailed the resumption of the talks as “positive”. The IPRM format meetings, facilitated by the OSCE and the EU Monitoring Mission, were interrupted over a year ago by the de facto South Ossetia authorities.

Speaking to South Ossetian journalists last January, de facto Special Representative in Post Conflict Regulation issues, Boris Chochiev said that Tskhinvali refused to participate in the meetings because the so called South Ossetian authorities had received no information about the residents of the de facto republic allegedly detained by Georgian law enforcers. “The South Ossetian side has repeatedly warned everyone involved in the Geneva discussions that unless we receive information about the missing citizens of South Ossetia we will not participate in these meetings. Our position remains unchanged,” information agency Res quoted Chochiev as saying.

The de facto South Ossetian authorities said their decision to resume Ergneti IPRM meetings followed the report of the CoE Human Rights Commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg outlining “serious shortcomings” in clarifying the fate of missing persons by all sides during and after the August 2008 war.

“Considering the fact that the data provided by the Hammarberg commission confirms our allegations, we decided to resume our participation in the Ergneti meetings in order to assist the citizens of South Ossetia living along the border with Georgia in solving their problems,” head of the de facto South Ossetian delegation in IPRM talks,” Merab Chigoev said, according to Osinform news agency. “I cannot say that we reached any substantial results at the meeting, however it was anyway more fruitful than we had expected,” he stated.

Spokesperson of the Georgian Interior Ministry, head of the Georgian delegation in the IPRM talks, Shota Utiashvili said issues concerning security along the administrative border between Georgia and Tskhinvali were discussed at the meeting. “It was the first meeting after a long pause, so obviously the resumption of meetings is an important fact,” Utiashvili noted after the meeting. “We talked about all the issues related to the situation along the border, the security of the citizens, water problems and the detained Georgians. The discussion was quite positive,” he added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a special statement welcoming the resumption of EUMM and OSCE facilitated talks in Ergneti on October 29. “It is an important step towards the further strengthening of stability and security in the region at the Georgian-South Ossetian border. IPRM plays an important role in preventing incidents and provocations and helps ease tension in the region in conditions of a lack of security guarantees from the Georgian side,” the Russian MFA statement reads.

The EU Monitoring Mission also released a statement following the October 28 meeting: “The agenda, based on contributions from all participants covered a number of issues, mostly concerning the daily lives of the civilian population along the administrative boundary line. They were discussed in some detail and as further work is necessary an agreement was reached to intensify the interaction including through the hotline.” According to the EUMM, “An overview of incidents since the beginning of the 2010 indicates a decrease in the general tension in the region. The meeting passed in a businesslike and constructive atmosphere.”

The 8th round of IPRM talks in Ergneti is scheduled for December 10.