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Format unchanged for Geneva Talks

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, October 15
The 21st round of Geneva Talks was held on October 11th, with an unchanged format of two working groups, with one addressing security issues and another one humanitarian issues. The Georgian delegation was presented on talks with altered composition and included two representatives from the Georgian Dream - an elected MP Giorgi Volski, who was deputy state minister for conflict resolution issues in 2004-2007 and Paata Zakareishvili, the incoming state minister for reintegration. The presence of the GD representatives was highly welcomed by the co-chair of the Geneva talks from the UN, Antti Turunen.

The discussed issues still remained the same: the non-use of force and International Security agreements, as well as the possibility for refugees and internally deplaced persons to return to their homes.

Non-use of Force was discussed within the framework of the first working group. Georgia made unilateral the non-use of pledge in 2010 and since then, Tbilisi, as well as the EU, have been calling on Russia to reciprocate with a similar pledge. A group of experts has been created that are responsible for discussing further several proposals issued by the co-chairs of the talks, which should help with establishing more stability within the region. All participants once again agreed that stability and the use of force still remains a problem. However, parties still have very different views on how the issues should be addressed. The official statement issued by the MFA of Georgia states that a modified document on non-use of force will be presented by the co-chairs at the 22nd round of the talks, which are scheduled for December 12th.

The Gali meeting of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM), which was supposed to be one of the achievements within the framework of the Geneva talks, is still suspended. This highly troubles the Georgian party. The next IPRM meeting was planned to be held in the presence of Andrzej Tyszkiewicz, head of EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM), who has been accused in "disrespect" by the Abkhazian party and is still not allowed on the territory of the breakaway region. Georgian representatives and also co-chairs once again called the Abkhazian party to review their decision and renovate IPRM meetings.

The problem of internally displaced people still remains unsolved. Sergi Kapanadze, deputy foreign minister and Georgian chief negotiator, reported after the meetings that regrettably no solution has been achieved on returning internally displaced persons to their homes.

Within the framework of the second working group, Georgian representatives also provided numerous facts about violations of human rights on the territories of the breakaway regions. People residing in the occupied territories lack the possibility to receive education in their mother tongue. Neither do they enjoy the right to free movement. Every attempt of a Georgian party to put through humanitarian issues has been blocked by Abkhazian and South-Ossetian participants.

Georgian and international representatives hope to finalize working on a bilateral document on the non-use of force in the near future and deal with the stability and safety issues within the occupied territories.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia de-facto governments and the Russian Federation still claim that the working format of the talks should be changed and the participantsí statuses need to be changed from a representative to a delegation. However, this request was opposed by the Georgian party, as well as by the co-chairs of the talks. The original format of the talks will remain.