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Georgia represented by a new team of negotiators at Geneva Talks

By Ana Robakidze
Friday, December 14
The 22nd round of the Geneva Talks between Georgia and Russia took place on December 12th. The former format of two working groups was retained. One working group discussed security issues and the other humanitarian issues. However, this was the first time where Georgia was represented by a new team of negotiators, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Nikoloz Vashakidze.

Participants of the talks have been working on drafting a joint statement on the non-use of force. This was positively assessed by Vashakidze. He can see “some progress” as parties have now started to work on the actual text of the document.

“I would like to say that the team led by Nikoloz Vashakidze has not presented any new ideas” the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigori Karasin commented. However, he hopes that the new Georgian negotiating team will adapt to the talks.

According to all assessments the 22nd round of the talks was very tough for all participants. Despite the fact that no major decision could be made, UN representative Antti Turunen said that all participants demonstrated during this round their commitment to the process and readiness to continue discussions.

The round was attended by Padraig Murphy, the OSCE Chairmanship’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus, who urged participants to maintain a constructive approach. “Peace is a long process which requires patience and perseverance, and can only be achieved with repeated small steps forward,” he said.

Vashakidze stated that Georgian representatives arrived in Geneva with very concert proposals, including ways to restore gas and water supplies to several districts in breakaway South Ossetia. Unfortunately the Deputy Minister was not happy with the results of the meeting and the attitude of representatives from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Vashakidze explained that instead of trying to solve several important problems Abkhazian and South Ossetian representatives attempted to change the format of the talks. Abkhazian and South Ossetian representatives have expressed their dissatisfaction with the established format of the talks during every round.

State Minister of Reintegration Paata Zakareishvili told the media that the Georgian side presented a very concrete plans. “This is an issue which requires achieving mutual consent. If this can be achieved the next step will be supplying irrigation water. However, Abkhazian and South Ossetian representatives left the meeting early.” Zakareishvili told journalists.

The next round of discussions will be held in March 2013.