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Geneva Talks Co-Chairs Visit Tbilisi, Sokhumi, Tskhinvali

The Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions (GID), 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, Sokhumi and Tskhinvali on November 15-19, in preparation for the 55th round of GID slated for December 7-8.

During the November 15 meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Tbilisi, Georgian interlocutors led by Deputy Foreign Minister Lasha Darsalia highlighted concern over the “common socio-economic space” program between Moscow and Sokhumi and other recent agreements between Kremlin and the Moscow-backed authorities that aim to integrate the occupied regions with Russia.

Discussions also covered the military build-up in the occupied regions and military drills carried out in contravention of the EU-brokered ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008, as well as ongoing “borderization” processes, according to the Foreign Ministry statement.

The Deputy FM raised the issue of arbitrary detentions by the Kremlin-backed authorities in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, and called for the release of Irakli Bebua, a Gali Georgian sentenced to nine years in Abkhazia. The Georgian delegation also reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators to justice in the deaths of David Basharuli, Archil TatunashviliGiga Otkhozoria and Irakli Kvaratskhelia.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Georgian interlocutors also stressed the issue of discrimination of ethnic Georgians in the occupied regions and their lack of access to education in their native language.

In Sokhumi, on November 16, the Co-Chairs met Abkhaz ‘deputy foreign minister’ Irakli Tuzhba. According to Sokhumi-based Apsnypress Tuzhba voiced concern over Georgia’s military modernization with U.S. and NATO support, as well as military drills conducted with the Alliance and the presence of U.S. Navy in the Black Sea.

Tuzhba also reiterated the need to sign an agreement on non-use of force with Tbilisi, and expressed readiness to discuss humanitarian issues, including medical care and freedom of movement in the upcoming round, according to the same report.

On November 19, in Tskhinvali, the Co-Chairs met Konstantin Kochiev, advisor to Kremlin-backed leader Anatoly Bibilov. Tskhinvali-based RES news agency cited Kochiev as saying the Kremlin-backed authorities would again raise the issue of the Georgian police post in the Chorchana-Tsnelisi area at the upcoming GID round, as well as push for signing a deal on non-use of force with Tbilisi.

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