Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on the 48th round of the Geneva International Discussions
The 48th round of the Geneva International Discussions was held on 2-3 July 2019. During the negotiations, imposition by the Russian Federation of the restrictive measures on Georgia and the severe consequences of the closure of the occupation line in Abkhazian region were raised with particular emphasis. The Georgian participants underlined the extreme necessity of de-escalation of the situation in this exacerbated context.
Throughout the negotiations, the representatives of Georgia extensively discussed the security and humanitarian challenges in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, as well as in the areas adjacent to the occupation line, which is a grave result of Russia's illegal occupation and steps towards de-facto annexation.
The Georgian participants raised the issue of Russia’s illegal military build-up and intensified military exercises in the occupied regions. They called upon the Russian Federation to fulfill the obligations under the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and withdraw its occupation forces from Georgia’s territory.
Special emphasis was placed on the severe humanitarian impact of the closure of so-called crossing points in Abkhazia region. The Co-Chairs, Co-Moderators and participants from the US and Georgia urged the Russian Federation to take immediate steps for re-opening the occupation line in Abkhazia region.
During the round, installation of barbed wire fences and various artificial barriers along the occupation line, kidnappings and illegal detentions of local population, as well as the restriction of freedom of movement and access to agricultural land plots were discussed, since they lead to further destabilization of the situation on the ground.
Particular attention was paid to the ethnic discrimination and acute humanitarian and socio-economic conditions of people residing in Gali and Akhalgori districts, as well as Kodori gorge. The representatives of Georgia once again pointed out the utmost need to ensure that Georgians living in the occupied territories are allowed to get education in their native language.
The important topic of the discussion was the necessity of execution of justice with regard to the cases of murder of Davit Basharuli, Giga Otkhozoria and Archil Tatunashvili. The Georgian participants paid special attention to the death of another citizen of Georgia, Irakli Kvaratskhelia, who died in the custody at the Russian illegal military base, and demanded from the Russian Federation to hand over immediately the materials of the case.
Throughout the negotiations the necessity of restoration of Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) without any precondition was numerously underscored, as it is of crucial importance in light of the existing challenges.
Representatives of Georgia stressed that the Russian Federation must affirm and implement the non-use of force commitment, since Russia continues using force against Georgia through its illegal military presence in Georgia’s occupied territories. The emphasis was made on the need for creation of international security mechanisms in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions in order to achieve sustainable peace and security on the ground.
The participants from Georgia underlined the significance of substantial talks on the topic of safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons and refugees, who have been forcibly expelled from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions as a result of ethnic cleansing. However, while discussing this issue, participants from Moscow, Sokhumi and Tskhinvali walked out of the negotiations, which once again demonstrates their destructive and irresponsible attitude towards this humanitarian topic of the agenda.
The next round of Geneva International Discussions will be held on 8-9 October 2019.
Geneva International Discussions were launched on the basis of the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement. Discussions are held within the frames of two Working Groups, where participants are represented in their individual capacity. In the first Working Group talks are focused on security and stability in the occupied territories of Georgia, while in second Working Group – on humanitarian and human rights situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, as well as on the issues related to safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees to the places of their origin. The discussions are held with Co-Chairmanship of the EU, UN and OSCE, and participation of Georgia, the Russian Federation and the USA. The Head of the Provisional Administration of the former South Ossetian Autonomous District and the Chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, as well as the representatives of the Sokhumi and Tskhinvali occupation regimes also attend the Working Groups.