The Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions, European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia Toivo Klaar, UN Representative Ayşe Cihan Sultanoğlu, and OSCE Special Representative Annika Söder held meetings in Tbilisi, Tskhinvali, and Sokhumi in the run up to the 54th GID round slated for October 12-13.
In Tbilisi on September 24, the Co-Chairs held meetings at the Georgian Foreign Ministry and State Ministry for Reconciliation. In the MFA, Georgian interlocutors, led by Deputy FM Lasha Darsalia, stressed the Aibga village border controversy, Russia’s steps towards de-facto annexation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions, the implementation of recent socio-economic deal between Moscow and Sokhumi, and the full ban of Georgian language in Gali district schools, among others.
At the State Ministry for Reconciliation, the parties discussed the humanitarian and human rights situation in the Russian occupied regions, including restrictions on freedom of movement, ban on Georgian language education in the Gali district, illegal creation of barbed wires the occupation line, and the release issue of illegally detained Georgian citizens, including Irakli Bebua.
Yesterday, the Co-Chairs visited Tskhinvali, where they met South Ossetian leader Anatoly Bibilov and Murat Jioev, among others. Tskhinvali based RES news agency said Bibilov “made a small excursion into the recent history of South Ossetia” for the three Co-Chairs.
Bibilov reportedly also spoke of importance of Ergneti IPRM, calling it “effective.” The Russian-occupied region’s leader further raised the issue of Georgian checkpoint in Chorchana village, near Tskhinvali-controlled Tsnelisi village, that stirred major controversy in 2019.
In Sokhumi on September 21, the Co-Chairs met with Russia-backed Abkhaz ‘deputy foreign minister’ Irakli Tuzhba. According to local Apsnypress news agency, Tuzhba expressed “serious concerns” over “militarization” of Georgia, yet stated readiness for a constructive dialogue on issues of a humanitarian nature.
Apsnypress also said the Co-Chairs stressed the importance of resuming Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism Gali, stalled since 2018.
From Georgia the Co-Chairs will travel to Moscow, where they are scheduled to meet Russian interlocutiors of the Geneva International Discussions.