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MFA: Russian and separatist sides have “unconstructive” attitude towards Geneva Discussions

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, March 31
Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) reports that representatives from the Russian Federation and Georgia’s de facto independent regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region showed their “unconstructive” attitude towards Geneva International Discussions, by leaving the 39th round of the talks when the Georgian side raised the issue of the peaceful return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to the territories.

The 39th round of the discussions was held on March 28-29, and 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, the United States (US), and authorities from de facto Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions.

According to the MFA, the talks were held within a two meeting-group format. At one meeting, the sides discussed security and stability issues in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, while the second meeting concerned the safe return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees to their homes.

At the meeting, Georgia stressed that the planned April 9 referendum in Tskhinvali over changing the region’s name to ‘the Republic of South Ossetia – the State of Alania' and the so-called deal over the integration of the Tskhinvali army into the Russian Armed Forces are “more steps taken towards the annexation of Georgia’s occupied territories by Russia”.

The topic of non-usage of military force was also discussed in details. The Georgian side also condemned the transportation of additional S-300 missile systems from Russia to Abkhazia.

“Intensive militarization and military drills in both breakaway regions fully contradict the terms of the August 2008 ceasefire agreement,” the MFA statement reads.

The participants of the discussions also talked about the reduction of so called crossing points at the Administrative Boundary Line dividing occupied Abkhazia from Georgia. The necessity to detain Rashid Kanjioghli, a so-called border guard sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in absentia for murdering Giga Otkhozoria (a Georgian citizen living near the occupation line) in May 2016 was also highlighted at the talks.

Georgia also showed concern over Russia’s creeping occupation, the installment of new barbed-wire-fences and so-called border signs on territory of Georgia, as well as depriving locals of receiving an education in their mother tongue.

“The Georgian delegation also raised the issue of the peaceful and dignified return of the Internally Displaced Persons to their homes in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region. While discussing the issue, representatives of Russia and the occupied regions left the negotiation table in protest,” Georgia’s Foreign Ministry stated.

Since the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008, the Geneva International Discussions have been the only format of dialogue between Georgia and Russia.

The next meeting to be held on June 20-21, 2017.