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59th Round of Geneva International Discussions

On December 5-6 the 59th round of the Geneva International Discussions (GID) – a multilateral forum to address security and humanitarian consequences of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war – was held in Geneva. The next round is scheduled for April 2024.

The Geneva International Discussions/GID were established on the basis of the ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008, brokered by the European Union. GID 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. The main issues discussed at the GID are the implementation of the ceasefire agreement, the safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons and refugees to their homes, and the security and humanitarian problems created as a result of the Russian occupation. 

According to the Press Communiqué of the Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions, this was the third round of discussions held this year “in a highly challenging regional and geopolitical environment.” The Co-chairs noted that the “participants reconfirmed the importance of the GID as the only platform where the conflict consequences have been addressed over the past 15 years.”

The GID Co-chairs wrote in the communique that “the round took place against a backdrop of increased tension along the South Ossetian administrative boundary line,” in the context of which “the fatal shooting of 6 November 2023 was broadly discussed, with extensive exchanges between participants on ways to prevent a repetition of similar incidents.”

“The issue of internally displaced persons and refugees could not be discussed due to a walkout by some participants,” the Co-chairs communique added.

Positions Taken: Georgia

During the negotiations, the Georgian delegation focused on the need for compliance by Russia with the EU-mediated ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008, and the return of displaced persons and refugees from the occupied territories to their homes, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia reported.

The Georgian delegation has also raised “the security, humanitarian and human rights issues in the occupied regions stemming from Russia’s destructive actions committed in violation of the ceasefire agreement.”

According to the MFA, the Georgian delegation emphasized and condemned the killing of a Georgian citizen Tamaz Ginturi by the Russian occupation forces in the village of Kirbali in the Gori municipality. The Georgian MFA said Ginturi’s killing is a “clear indication of the severe consequences of the Russian occupation and proves the need of Russia to fulfil the ceasefire agreement.”

“Russia and the representatives of its occupation regimes once again politicized humanitarian issues and walked out of the negotiations on one of the main issues of the agenda – the return of internally displaced persons expelled from the occupied territories to their homes,” the MFA added.

Positions Taken: Russia, Tskhinvali, Sokhumi participants

According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Russian side emphasized the “importance of Tbilisi’s continued contacts” with de facto authorities in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali under GDI in order to start “as soon as possible the substantive work on the conclusion of a legally binding agreement on the non-use of force by Georgia against Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as to launch the process of delimitation of the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-South Ossetian state borders [ed.refers to occupation lines] with their subsequent demarcation.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that there is a “need for further strengthening the security” of occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions because of the “increasing activity of NATO in the Black Sea region, the realization of plans for military absorption of Georgia by the Alliance, and the pumping of modern weapons into this country”.

The statement said that the situation on the ground at the occupation lines “generally remained stable with the exception of isolated incidents.” The statement expressed satisfaction with the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) in Ergneti and spoke of the importance of reopening IPRM in Gali.  The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned UN General Assembly resolutions on IDPs and Refugees in Georgia, calling it  “a serious irritant impeding interaction on humanitarian issues in Geneva.”

The Tskhinvali representatives said in a statement that “the South Ossetian delegation drew the participants’ attention to the ongoing provocations on the Georgian side, the facts of intentional violation of the state border and the importance of marking the state border line to prevent unintentional violations,” reiterating Russia’s call on the “delimitation and demarcation” of the occupation line.

According to the de facto authorities of the occupied Tskhinvali region, their delegation to the GID emphasized “deepening” of NATO-Georgia cooperation “as a serious challenge to regional stability and a threat to the security of South Ossetia.”

“As part of the work of the second working group, the South Ossetian delegation, despite the extremely destructive position of the Georgian participants and rude attacks on the South Ossetian, Russian and Abkhaz sides, raised a number of important humanitarian issues, the central place among which was the fate of the missing citizens of South Ossetia, ” the de-facto authorities said, adding that “that progress in this direction could become an important element in establishing trust” between the occupied territory and the rest of Georgia.

“There was no discussion on the refugee problem at the completed round. Resumption of discussions on the issue of refugees will become possible after Georgia stops attempts to artificially politicize this problem,” the statement said.

Representatives of the occupied Abkhazia also “paid special attention to the need to sign a legally binding document on international guarantees of non-use of force.”

In addition, according to the de facto authorities, “virtually all participants in the meeting” confirmed the need to resume the work of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) in the city of Gali as one of the important elements of ensuring local security. The de-facto authorities claimed to have made “further proposals aimed at restoring the work of this mechanism”, which “did not receive support from the Georgian participants”.

As in the past, representatives of occupied Abkhazia reportedly called on the United States and the European Union to recognize occupied Abkhazian “passports” as travel documents.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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