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54th round of the Geneva International Discussions

By Khatia Bzhalava
Friday, October 15
Release of Illegally detained Georgian citizens, de-facto annexation of the occupied territories and the humanitarian situation on the ground were the issues discussed at the 54th round of the Geneva International Discussions on October 13.

As reported, the co-chairs of the discussions welcomed the lifting of restrictions at the Enguri bridge and Saberio-Pakhulani crossing points and called for freedom of movement to be fully restored, in particular at the Odzisi crossing point.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, during the talks, the Georgian delegation criticized the recent steps taken by Moscow towards the de facto annexation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, including the implementation of a program for the creation of a single socio-economic space, the signing of the so-called dual citizenship agreement, and attempted unilateral delimitation-demarcation of the section of the occupied territories of the Russian-Georgian state border.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the situation along the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-South Ossetian borders remains relatively stable and in order to strengthen security in the region, the Russian side offers to start the process of delimitation of the border between Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia with their further demarcation. “Sokhumi and Tskhinvali actively support Moscow in this,” the Russian Foreign Ministry notes.

One of the main topics of discussion was Russia's non-fulfilment of the EU-brokered ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008. It is stressed in the Georgian Foreign ministry’s statement that Russia extensively militarizes the occupied territories, implements illegal military exercises, and erects barbed wires and various artificial barriers on the occupation line. The ministry reports that significant attention was given to the process of creeping occupation near the village of Chorchani, “which creates the risk of an escalation on the ground.”

According to the Georgian Foreign Ministry, due to the destructive position of the representatives of Russia and its occupation regimes, the discussions failed to address one of the most important issues on the agenda, which is the safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees displaced as a result of ethnic cleansing from the occupied territories. “As soon as the issue was raised, participants from Moscow, Sukhumi and Tskhinvali tried to politicize the issue and left the discussion,” Foreign Ministry reports.

The Geneva International Discussions was established based on the August 12, 2008 ceasefire agreement to address the consequences of the Russia-Georgia war. The discussion brings together the central government of Georgia, the de-facto representatives of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia), Russia, the US, the UN, the OSCE and the EU. The next round of talks will be held on December 7-8, 2021.