On November 26, Konstantin Pilia, the de-facto head of the administration of the predominantly Georgian-populated Gali district of occupied Abkhazia, said that preparations were underway to set up a new physical space for holding the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism/IPRM meetings, which has not taken place since 2018.
According to him, a space is currently in preparation ‘just beyond the Enguri river bridge… not reaching our checkpoint.” This designated area, featuring a “conference hall,” is intended to host IPRM meetings, and the goal is to conduct them without entry of Georgian representatives into the occupied territory.
Pilia says a significant obstacle to restoring the Gali IPRM format has been a “disagreement over travel requirements.” He said that the Georgian side insisted that they could enter the venue with Georgian identity cards. At the same time, the de-facto authorities maintained the delegation had to present their passports used for traveling abroad.
Pilia said the de-facto authorities favor “equal” dialogue, and “there are forces in Georgia that understand that they must turn this page.” He added that the Georgian government “is sending signals that it doesn’t want to open a second front, doesn’t want to be against Russia.” He also stressed that Georgia has a “very, very serious Western-funded opposition that reacts immediately to even the smallest development,” recalling the protests related to the entry of the Russian tourist ship’s visit to Batumi.
“Our main focus is to demonstrate good neighborliness, and we are ready for dialogue on equal terms. The signal has been sent; now we are waiting for a response,” Pilia added.
Earlier in October this year, Irakli Tuzhba, de-facto deputy foreign minister of the occupied Abkhazia, said that the de-facto authorities prepared “another package of proposals to unfreeze the IPRM format,” expressing “hope” that these proposals “will receive a proper response from Georgia and we will be able to start working in this format.”
“We believe this is a fairly important format, part of the Geneva process, the so-called local security mechanism. In 2021, we made official proposals, which we conveyed to our Georgian colleagues through UN representatives,” Tuzhba added.
According to Radio Liberty Tbilisi bureau, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia in exile, Jemal Gamakharia, said at a press conference in Tbilisi that the agreement on the resumption of the dialogue within the framework of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) has virtually been reached within the Geneva International Discussions.
“The Georgian side said it is not going to cross [into the occupied Abkhazia] with foreign passports,” Gamakharia said, adding that this issue has hindered the restoration of the format. Commenting on the arrangement of the zone for Gali IPRM, mentioned by Pilia, Gamakharia said that “this is part of the Geneva format.”
Note: This news was updated on December 5 at 17:04 to reflect Gamakharia’s comment.
Civil.ge addressed the relevant Georgian authorities, including the State Security Service of Georgia, for a comment which will be added to this news.
The last, 57th IPRM, was suspended in Gali in 2018 after Russian and Abkhaz participants left the meeting over their disagreement with Georgian representatives, who wanted the case of Giga Otkhozoria, murdered by Rashid Kanji-Ogli, an Abkhaz officer, to be on the agenda.
IPRM in Gali has been suspended several times since 2010. The most extended such pause started in 2012 when Sokhumi pronounced the then-head of the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) as an “undesirable person on the Abkhaz territory.” Despite a new head being appointed at EUMM in 2013, the IPRM meetings did not resume until 2016.
The IPRMs format was established in 2009 under the Geneva International Discussions to address the security concerns and developments on the ground.
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