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Geneva – at least we're talking

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, June 6
The 20th round of Geneva negotiations on the August War will be held from June 7-8. The negotiations began four years ago, brokered by the French in the wake of the ceasefire agreement signed on August 12, 2008. The talks include not only Georgia and Russia, but the US, the EU, the UN, and the OSCE. The governments of separatist South Ossetia and Abkhazia are represented, as well as the Georgian "interim" administrations. Two working groups are in place, one to discuss security and stability, and the other on refugees and IDPs.

The major goal of the Georgian government is to fully implement all of the Medvedev-Sarkozy six-point agreement, which stipulates a withdrawal of Russian occupational forces from Georgia’s territory as well as the signing a non-use of force agreement with Russia. The Russians will not agree to these terms, as they claim not to be party to the conflict, and insist that any agreement must be concluded between Georgia and the "independent" breakaway territories.

Presumably, during the 20th round of talks, Georgia will again demand a non-use of force agreement with Russia. It also will demand the creation of security mechanisms in the occupied territories monitored by international organizations. It can be said now, with some certainty, that Russia will not agree to these demands. Similarly, no progress will be made on getting IDPs returned to their homes. Despite the fact that practically no progress has been achieved in the past four years, the fact that both sides sit at the table and talk is only positive.

So far, however, there has been one clear diplomatic victory – almost all international bodies have accepted that Georgian territories are occupied by Russia. UN resolutions 1828, 1839, and 1866 all affirm Georgia’s territorial integrity. The Russian government has done its best to attract international recognition of the separatist regions as independent states, but has largely failed.