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Geneva negotiations hit a wall

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, July 2
The 24th round of the Geneva negotiations yielded no results. Moreover, it nearly ended with a scandal. The Russian side, as well as the de facto representatives of Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, has mentioned the possibility of stopping the negotiations. However, the 25th round of negotiations was scheduled for October 15-16.

The Geneva negotiations originated in 2008, following the August War between Georgia and Russia. It has different goals and incentives for the various actors involved. Tbilisi aims for the de-occupation of its breakaway territories, the withdrawal of Russian troops from those territories and guarantees of security for its citizens, including the return of IDPs to their original homes.

Moscow, meanwhile, demands that Georgia recognize the results of the August War as the new reality. This means recognition of the Sokhumi and Tskhinvali puppet regimes as independent states.

Of course these two cases do not fit each other. Georgia needs international observers to participate in the negotiations; including the EU, OSCE, UN and the representatives of the US. However, Russia wants these negotiations to have Georgia-South Ossetia or Georgia-Abkhazia negotiation formats. Russia wants to present its puppet regimes as the sides; whereas for Georgia, Russia is another side.

There are two working groups at the Geneva discussions: one dealing with the security issues, another dealing with humanitarian problems.

The 24th round of negotiations referred to two main issues– one traditionally concerned with the formula of the non-use of force; the second was initiated by the Georgian side concerning the recent steps carried out by the Russian occupiers (moving the so-called border inside Georgia in some cases by several hundred meters). This fact was labeled by the Georgian side as evidence of “crawling annexation”.

In 2010 the Georgian team provided guarantees of the non-use of force publicly several times, and therefore it demands Russia make the same commitment. However, the Kremlin has refused to do so, stressing that it is not at all part of the conflict. Thus it offers to conclude the agreement between Tbilisi and its breakaway territories of Tskhinvali and Sokhumi. As such, Moscow wants Tbilisi to indirectly recognize the “new reality” as this agreement within this format will be the recognition of the breakaway territories as equal legal entities.

Russia’s position aimed at avoiding the signing of the agreement with Tbilisi is dangerous, as Russian tanks are located around 40 kilometers away from Tbilisi.

The second new issue concerning moving the administrative border has become very acute recently. The Russian side aggressively moved inside Georgian territory with barbed wire fences, the building of fortification devices, they have detained the local population and have created terror and panic among them.

Not only the Georgian participants of the negotiations, but also the international observers, have criticized Moscow’s position in this regard. Representatives of Moscow and its puppet regimes tried to frustrate the work of the second group; whereas the Georgian representatives and international observers protested over the possibility of stopping negotiations.

The Russian side, which is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister, Gregory Karasin, even threatened the session that the negotiations might be suspended for good. However, eventually the situation calmed down and the next round was determined.

The international participants of the session saw that the Russian side is not at all constructive and the whole responsibility could be put on Moscow.