The 54th round of the Geneva International Discussions (GID) – a multilateral forum to address security and humanitarian consequences of the Russo-Georgian War of August 2008 – took place on October 12-13 in the Palace of Nations.
The GIDs are co-chaired by representatives of OSCE, EU, and UN, and involve participants from Georgia, Russia, and the U.S., as well as members of both the exiled Georgian administrations of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and the two regions’ Russian-backed authorities, in their personal capacities. Sessions are held in two working groups, with the first group discussing peace and security matters, and the second – humanitarian concerns.
Positions taken: Georgia
The Georgian Foreign Ministry stated the discussions revolved around “the release of arbitrarily detained Georgian citizens, the process of de-facto annexation of the occupied territories, and resolving the humanitarian problems on the ground.”
Tbilisi highlighted as concern recent steps toward “de-facto annexation” of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, including Moscow’s common social and economic space program with Sokhumi and dual citizenship deal with Tskhinvali.
The Georgian delegation highlighted Moscow’s attempts to “illegally annex” part of the Aibga village in occupied Abkhazia. Tbilisi also stressed the Russian State Duma elections being held in both occupied regions “was a clear indication of the ongoing process of annexation.”
“Moscow’s unlawful statements on carrying out the so-called delimitation-demarcation on the occupation line are completely unacceptable,” the Foreign Ministry added, citing the Georgian delegation. “The sole solution to the issue is the de-occupation of Georgia’s territories.”
The Foreign Ministry noted that Tbilisi has “repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the non-use of force and has been sincerely fulfilling this promise.” Meanwhile, Russia “continues to use force and threats on using force against the Georgian side.”
Georgian delegation also drew attention to the militarization of the occupied territories, illegal military exercises, violations of Georgian airspace and erecting barriers along the occupation line. Tbilisi again stressed the need to deliver justice in the murder cases of Archil Tatunashvili, Giga Otkhozoria, and Davit Basharuli. Irakli Kvaratskhelia’s death at a Russian military base in Abkhazia was also discussed.
Tbilisi highlighted humanitarian challenges, including restrictions on free movement, discrimination against ethnic Georgians and their inability to receive education in their native language.
The Foreign Ministry reported that the return of internally displaced persons to their homes in the occupied regions could not be discussed as participants from Moscow, Sokhumi, and Tskhinvali walked out.
Positions taken: Russia, Sokhumi, Tskhinvali
The Russian Foreign Ministry reported that Moscow considers signing a legally binding agreement on the non-use of force between Tbilisi, and Tskhinvali and Sokhumi for achieving “lasting security in the South Caucasus.”
The Russian delegation claimed the urgency for this grows amid “active efforts by the west to draw Tbilisi into NATO,” citing military exercises, including Agile Spirit 2021 drills, being held in Georgia.
Moscow, supported by Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, also proposed to delimit and demarcate the dividing line between Georgia proper and the occupied regions.
Participants from Sokhumi reiterated concern regarding “the ongoing build-up of Georgia’s military potential,” claiming it could inevitably lead to an escalation of tensions.
Participants from Tskhinvali claimed meanwhile that Tbilisi “continues to politicize” the issue of demarcating the dividing line, which “would ease the living conditions” of people on both sides.
GID Co-Chairs’ Assessment
The GID Co-Chairs stated that participants discussed the elements of “comprehensive/human dimensions of security,” and exchanged views on “the fears, wants, and dignities of conflict-affected populations.”
According to the statement, the situation on the ground was assessed “as relatively stable,” but a number of issues were highlighted. These were ongoing detentions, unresolved missing person cases, restrictions on freedom of movement, response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and specific security concerns, the GID co-chairs reported.
The GID Co-Chairs acknowledged the continued Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRM) meetings in Ergneti, and stressed the need to resume GALI IPRM meetings “without further delay.”
The next round will be held on December 7-8 in Geneva.