Geneva Talks Co-Chairs Visit Sokhumi, Tskhinvali

Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions (GID), Toivo Klaar, Cihan Sultanoğlu and Rudolf Michalka from the EU, the UN and OSCE, respectively, held meetings on November 25-26 with Moscow-backed authorities in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, in preparation for the postponed 51st GID round.

According to Abkhaz media, at the November 25 meetings in Sokhumi, along with the agenda of the next round of Geneva Discussions, the parties discussed “relevant issues of regional security and stability” persisting amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abkhaz side expressed concerns about “Georgia’s militarization process,” namely, military exercises in the framework of the Georgia-NATO partnership. Moscow-backed Abkhaz authorities also claimed that the recent visit of the U.S. Navy missile destroyer USS Donald Cook to the Black Sea area can have “negative effects” on the regional security.

Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania told the Co-Chairs that Sokhumi will facilitate the decisions favorable not only for Abkhazia but the entire Caucasus. “I hope that the upcoming round of discussions will be useful and productive,” Bzhania noted.

On November 26, the Co-Chairs met with the Kremlin-backed authorities led by Murat Jioev in Tskhinvali. Jioev said that despite difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, “there are many security and humanitarian issues that need to be solved.”

Jioev underscored the problem of IDPs from the region, stating that the issue cannot be resolved as “from 2010, Georgia began to bring its annual politicized resolution on refugees to the UN.”

Jioev also reiterated calls for removing the Georgian police observation post located in the Chorchana-Tsnelisi area, claiming the checkpoint serves as a constant source of “destabilization.”

Prior to holding talks with Abkhaz and Tskhinvali interlocutors, the GID Co-Chairs on November 23 met with Georgian officials led by Deputy Foreign Minister Lasha Darsalia in Tbilisi.

The 51st GID round, initially scheduled for March 31 – April 1, 2020, was postponed by the decision of the Co-Chairs due to “circumstances related to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus.” The alternative date, October 6-7 was deferred until December, for the second time, “since not all participants were able to attend,” while Tbilisi accused Moscow of deliberately disrupting the negotiations.

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