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Geneva Talks Achieve Little Once Again

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, December 16
As it turned out the main outcome of the 18th round of Geneva talks between Georgia and Russia was the appointment of the date for 19th round which will take place on March 28-29 of 2012. The reason for the failure this time in achieving some compromise was the same – different views and demands and the great influence of Russia during the talks.

The Georgian side’s permanently raises two main issues: the non-use of force and international security arrangements. These were again the focus of the 18th round of talks held on December 14, however, as usual such demands do not coincide with Russian interests.

Sergi Kapanadze, the Georgian deputy foreign minister, said after the talks in Geneva, that the co-chairs' plan, tabled during the previous rounds, was about how to get to the point when all the participants would make non-use of force pledges towards each other.

Georgia made such a pledge last November and since then has been insisting on Russia to reciprocate. But Moscow refuses to make such pledge, claiming that it is not a party to the conflict and instead is offering to act, together with the United States and the European Union, as a guarantor of non-use of force treaties between Tbilisi and Tskhinvali on the one hand and Tbilisi and Sukhumi on the other.

"We hope that over the next rounds Russia will be able to issue this kind of [non-use of force] pledge and to reaffirm that it is not going to use force against Georgia. We need it in order to be able to move forward," Kapanadze said.

As the deputy Foreign Minister stated, such a pledge from Moscow is very much necessary for the Georgian side as “some aggressive remarks are heard from Russian officials.”

How helpful Russia might be in this respect during the next round of negotiations was revealed in statements made by Russian deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin, who has accused Georgia of training terrorists against Russia and made his own demands against the Georgian representation. Karasin underlined “the issue of the delimitation of borders of Georgia-Abkhazia and Georgia–Ossetia was raised during the meeting and the document on non use of force adopted by the de facto regions' leaderships was presented." The Georgians will not accept this as Georgia states that it does not recognize the regions' leaders and waits for such a pledge only from Russia.

As analyst in conflict issues, Malkhaz Chemia, told The Messenger the existence of Geneva talks and such a format in general is important, as in future, the process might bring some positive results however, ”currently it seems to be useless, nevertheless the existing negotiations and contact with occupied regions is very important. Several things from a global point of view have been changed - for example the situation in Russia, the state’s integration in the WTO, the current reality in the occupied regions and so on, and all this will be reflected in the process of the talks step by step. There are some concessions from the Russian side as well,” the analyst said and also mentioned that in case of a change in the current leadership of Georgia the process would develop faster.