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30th round of the Geneva Talks yield little progress

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, December 12
The 30th round of the Geneva Talks, an international format that aims to address Georgian-Russian issues, concluded on December 20. It was revealed after the meeting that the talks resulted in no tangible outcome, and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin left the talks without commenting. The Georgian side also admitted that the Russian representatives attempted to address Georgian-NATO relations during the talks, but they were dismissed by the Georgian side.

According to Georgia's Deputy Foreign Minister David Dondua, who chaired the Georgian delegation to Geneva, the main topic of the talks was the treaty between de-facto Abkhazia and Russia on ‘Alliance and Strategic Partnership’ and the fulfilment of Russia’s obligations of the ceasefire agreement, made after the August war in 2008. The Georgian side also pushed forward the military training taking place in de-facto South Ossetia.

"We condemned the treaty and stated that in the case Russia decides to sign the same document with South Ossetia, the step will be followed by strong condemnation within the international community and will be taken as a step taken towards annexation of the region,” Dondua said.

Meanwhile, before the latest round of the Geneva Talks, Karasin admitted that the treaty Russia had signed with Abkhazia was "just strengthening” the collaboration memorandum signed with Abkhazia after the August War in 2008. While speaking about the treaty, Karasin touched upon Georgia’s foreign course.

"We made our relations deeper with Abkhazia through the treaty. Georgia has also deepened its relations with NATO and other actors like the United States,” Karasin said.

American representative at the talks, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Eric Rubin, said the US was concerned with the Russian-Abkhazia treaty. He emphasized that the treaty might affect the format of the talks and create obstacles for humanitarian issues.

Aside from political issues, humanitarian issues were also discussed during the meeting.

Georgia’s Deputy Minister for Reconciliation and Civil Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili raised the issues of free movement of Georgian refugees in the occupied regions, education for Georgians living in the regions in their mother- tongue and the reintegration of refugees, but the de-facto region representatives did not provide clear responses on the issues. She informed that the co-chairs of the talks will go on working on humanitarian issues.