On November 12, security officials from Tbilisi, Tskhinvali and the Russian Federation held the seventh “technical meeting” in village Ergneti, near the line of occupation with Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, over the recent events in Chorchana-Tsnelisi area.
Following the meeting, Irakli Antadze, Deputy Director of the Analytical Department of the State Security Service of Georgia, said that at today’s meeting positions remained unchanged, however, Tbilisi was expecting “a more constructive position” from Tskhinvali representatives.
“We again raised the proposals that are necessary to normalize the situation on the ground. Unfortunately our positions did not match again,” Antadze noted. He reiterated that the Georgian police checkpoint in Chorchana village of Khashuri Municipality will not be dismantled.
Protesting the construction of the Georgian checkpoint, Tskhinvali representatives disrupted the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meeting in Ergneti on August 29, urging Tbilisi to remove the checkpoint by 6am the following day, otherwise, threatened with the use of “all legal measures” at their disposal.
The situation was relatively defused, as the decision was reached to hold the “technical meeting” in occupied village of Tsnelisi the following day, where security officials from Tbilisi, Tskhinvali and Russian Federation gathered to discuss the escalation around the police checkpoint at the edge of the occupation line.
However, following the unanimous denial from Tbilisi to dismantle the checkpoint, in a Tit-for-Tat move, Tskhinvali started works to “mark the border” in Chorchana-Tsnelisi area, by placing “border signs” and their flag on Tbilisi-controlled territory west of Tsnelisi village on height 944.8, effectively seizing more lands controlled by the central Georgian government.
According to Antadze, at today’s meeting, the participants discussed other issues related to the developments in Chorchana-Tsnelisi area as well. In particular, he referred to the closure of crossing points, connecting the region with Georgia proper. Antadze said that Tbilisi representatives demanded “immediate reopening” of the crossing points, but he added that “unfortunately” Tskhinvali remains reluctant to change its decision.
“The central government is using all of its resources to ensure that all of the crossing points are reopened, that the local population faces no restrictions on freedom of movement, and has opportunity to satisfy their daily needs,” Antadze said, noting that this is “a humanitarian issue and it is inadmissible to connect it with any type of political insinuations.”
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Antadze also said that at the meeting he asked about the health conditions of the two Georgian citizens, “illegally detained” near the line of occupation. Antadze said he was informed that the two feel well and will be released after fulfiling “the so-called procedures.” The State Security Service official said however, that the occupying forces are “detaining Georgian citizens on the Georgian territory.”
Head of the European Union Monitoring Mission Erik Høeg also wrote on his official Twitter page following the meeting that “EUMM presented overview of developments based on its 24/7 patrolling.” “No substantial progress. Participants committed to continue discussions on how to de-escalate further, however,” he tweeted.