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Georgia, Russia Fail to Agree on Non-Use of Force at Geneva Int'l Talks

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, March 30
Georgia and Russia could not reach agreement on non-use of force at the 43rd round of the Geneva International Discussions (GID), held on March 27-28.

At the discussions, which are the only format of negotiations between Georgia and Russia since 2008, Russia wanted Georgia to sign agreements on non-use of force with the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, refusing to recognize itself as initiator of the conflict.

Meanwhile, Georgia says the agreement has to be made with Russia, accusing it of occupation and annexation of Georgian territories in the wake of Russia-Georgia war 2008.

The sides could not reach the agreement, which means the 43rd round of the discussions could not bring any positive outcome.

The meeting was co-chaired by EU, UN and OSCE, with the participation of Georgia, the Russian Federation and the USA. The representatives of the Sokhumi and Tskhinvali occupation regimes also attended the meeting.

The discussions were held in two working groups. In Working Group I, the participants reviewed the security situation on the ground. The Co-Chairs reiterated their strong concern over the tragic death of Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili in February 2018, who was allegedly tortured and killed in de facto Tskhinvali detention facility. In this context, the Co-Chairs stressed on the need to avoid impunity and called for a thorough investigation into the case and for cooperation among relevant stakeholders, including in the framework of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism.

In Working Group II, the participants extensively discussed the humanitarian aspects of the Tatunashvili case, which also impacted on the rest of the deliberations. In addition, they exchanged views on missing persons, environmental challenges and how they affect livelihoods, obstacles to freedom of movement for the local population, healthcare, documentation and education.

The Russian and de facto representatives left the discussions in protest, when the Georgian side raised the issue of safe return of IDPs to their homes in the occupied regions.

"Russia avoided constructive reasoning on the non-use of force. It questioned the fundamental principles of the Geneva talks, or the Ceasefire Agreement, signed on August 12, 2008, through the EU mediation. After all this, we could not achieve anything on this round," said David Dondua, Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia.

He also noted that at the discussions Georgian side claimed Russian Federation should be politically held accountable for the death of Tatunashvili.

“The Russian Federation, as a country exercising effective control of the occupied territories, should be politically held accountable. The addressee of our statements was Russia,” he added.

“Russia and the puppet regime have made such provocative statements that it is clear they are not ready for any constructive dialogue,” Dondua said, adding the spread information, that Georgia is going to make concessions in Geneva, is not true.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin also made statements after the GID round. He said Georgia should choose its policy towards Russia.

Karasin explained that after Georgian Prime Minister’s letter to Russia, offering dialogue, Georgian parliament’s adopted resolution where Russian actions in Georgia’s breakaway regions are condemned, was quite “controversial.”

Russian diplomat also did not exclude that at the next round, the participants will discuss changing of the format of GID, adding it did not turn out to be effective.

However, Georgia’s Dondua said such an issue has not been mentioned at the discussions.

Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also commented on the GID meeting, saying “Russian Federation demonstrated a “destructive approach and with deliberate provocative statements brought the talks into the deadlock.”

Meanwhile, Russian MFA calls on Tbilisi to abolish the "Law on Occupied Territories" and start a direct dialogue with breakaway Abkhazia and Tskhinvali.

Kremlin added Georgian side tried to impose responsibility on Russia on its own “failure to regulate relations with Tskhinvali and Sokhumi.”

The next round of GID will be held in June.