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36th Round of Geneva Talks held

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, June 17
The 36th round of Geneva International Discussions between Georgian officials and the leaders of the de-facto independent Abkhazia region, mediated by European officials, was held on June 15.

The talks were co-chaired by representatives from the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), as well as delegates from Georgia, Russia and the United States (US), and authorities from the Abkhaz and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) regions.

According to the statement released by Georgia’s Foreign Ministry, two working groups held a meeting at the 36th round of the Geneva negotiations, where the participants of the talks were presented with individual status. The security and stability issues in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region were discussed within the framework of the first working group and the issue of IDPs’ return was discussed by the second working group.

The meeting ended after the Abkhaz and Russian sides left the meeting in protest. They left while discussing the possibility of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) returning to their homes.

During the talks, the Khurcha accident also was raised by Georgian side, when an unarmed 31 year-old citizen of Georgia, Giga Otkhozoria, was gunned down by Russian border guards on Georgian-controlled territory in the village of Khurcha, close to the Nabakevi Crossing Point on the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) on May 19.

The Georgian side provided the participants with additional information and categorically demanded the murderer to be detained. The proposal was immediately supported by the participants with the exception of the Russian representatives.

“Unfortunately, the occupation regime representatives had no proper information on the case. The participants have expressed the hope that the scheduled meeting in Gali on 6 July will clarify the issue more,” reads the statement released by the Georgian Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, Russian side accuses Georgia of not being constructive. According to the Foreign Ministry of Russia, Tbilisi has refused to adopt a joint statement on non-usage of force that was perceived as non-constructive attitude towards the significant topic.

According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, the UN resolution on IDP’s return adopted on June 7 had a negative impact on the meeting.

“The delegations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia expressed protest in relation to this, demanding the issue of the IDPs to be removed from the Geneva Talks agenda, saying they will not discuss the issue until the Georgian side stops submitting documents to New York. The Russian Federation supported the position of the two independent republics,” reads the statement.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Grigory Karasin said that the next talks, planned in October 2016, will be more tense.

“Some sensitive issues will be discussed during the 37th meeting. Abkhazia and South Ossetia see Georgia’s desire toward joining NATO as a signs of danger. Some intrigues are caused artificially. Last year over one million people crossed the borders. That already shows that there is no problem of dislodging the Georgian population on the ABL,” stated Karasin.

The next round of the Geneva International Discussions is scheduled for October 4-5, 2016.