Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 52nd Round of the Geneva International Discussions

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 30 March 2021 14:17
The 52nd Round of the Geneva International Discussions was held on 26 March, 2021. The deteriorated security and humanitarian situation in Georgia’s occupied territories on the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, intensification of the de-facto annexation process by the Russian Federation and the release of the illegally detained Georgian citizens were among the main topics of the discussions.

In the frames of the negotiations the Georgian delegation talked extensively about the historic Judgment of the European Court of Human rights, which creates a significant international legal instrument in the process of peaceful conflict resolution. Participants from Georgia underlined that the Court established the Russian Federation’s effective control over and occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia and hence ruled the Russian Federation’s responsibility for the human rights violations during the August 2008 War and the subsequent period of occupation. The Georgian delegation stated that the ECHR underlined the Russian Federation’s responsibility for ethnic cleansing of Georgian population and for hampering the implementation of the right of return of IDPs and refugees. The Georgian participants also pointed to those parts of the Judgment which highlight the non-compliance with the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement by the Russian Federation and its continuous large-scale military presence in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia in violation of the undertaken obligations.

Intensification of de-facto annexation process of Georgia’s occupied territories was raised sharply in light of the adoption of the “programme” for creation of a common social-economic space between the Russian Federation and Abkhazia region, as well as in the context of discussions by the President of Russia with the Sokhumi occupation regime about the creation of a “union state”. Georgian participants talked extensively about the intensified provocations carried out by the Russian federation on the background of COVID-19 pandemic, building a new Berlin wall in terms of erecting barbed-wire fences and other artificial barriers, as well as about the facts of illegal kidnappings and detentions of people living along the occupation line. The Georgian delegation demanded unconditional release of all the Georgian citizens being under the illegal detention in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali.
 
Significant attention was paid to the increased militarisation and regular military exercises in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia, continuation of the creeping occupation in the territory adjacent to the village Chorchana, as well as Russia’s intensified use of the hybrid war instruments, which serves for the destabilisation of the situation in the country.
 
An important part of the negotiations was dedicated to the grave humanitarian and social-economic consequences of the restriction of freedom of movement along the occupation line. Dire conditions of the residents of Gali and Akhalgori districts as well as of the Codori Gorge was stressed in this context. Fatal results entailed by hampering medical evacuations was emphasised and necessity of unimpeded access to healthcare services of people living in the occupied territories was underlined. Georgian participants raised the issue of restriction of freedom of movement of Tamar Mearakishvili, the activist from Akhalgori district, who had not been allowed to cross the occupation line and visit her family by Tskhinvali occupation regime for years.
The talks also focused on ethnic discrimination of Georgians remained in the occupied territories, grave consequence of the restriction of education in native language, as well as crucial importance of protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of local population. The Georgian delegation pointed to the increased attempts of russification and isolation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions from the rest of Georgia.
 
It was highlighted that the impunity in the cases of murder of David Basharuli, Giga Otkhozoria and Archil Tatunashvili encouraged ethnically based violence and crime. The Georgian delegation once again raised the issue of the necessity for execution of justice in the mentioned cases.
 
The emphasis was made on the need for access of the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM), as well as international human rights organisations in Georgia’s occupied territories. The necessity for ensuring unimpeded humanitarian support for the conflict-affected people during the COVID-19 pandemic was stressed, which in its turn represents one of the main obligations under the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.
 
Extensive talks were held on the efficient use of the negotiations formats, including the need for regular and proper functioning of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs). In this context the necessity of unconditional resumption of Gali IPRM and unhindered work of Ergmeti IPRM was underlined.
 
The necessity of adequately addressing problems and needs of conflict-affected and IDP women was highlighted in both working groups and the importance of amplification of “Women, Peace and Security” agenda in peace negotiations was underlined.
 
Active discussions were held on the major agenda items such as non-use of force and establishment of international security arrangements. The Georgian delegation underlined crucial importance of reiteration and implementation of the non-use of force obligation by Russia in light of Moscow’s continued use of force and threat of use of force against Georgia through its illegal military presence and regular military exercises in the occupied territories.  The Georgian participants stressed that the only guarantee for the ceasefire and non-use of force was the deployment of international security mechanisms in the occupied territories, which would have been a milestone in the process of lasting peace and security on the ground. Georgian participants made emphasis on the issue of implementation of EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement by Russia, as well as demanded withdrawal of Russian occupation forces from the territory of Georgia and deployment of international security mechanisms on the ground.
 
Active exchange of views took place on one of the major agenda items like safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees expelled as a result of ethnic cleansing from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia. Despite the attempts of the Georgian delegation for non-politicised discussion of the issue the Russian Federation and the representatives of the occupation regimes once again tried to use this topic for political manipulations and left the negotiations table during the discussions on this agenda item.
 
The next round of the GID will be held on 29-30 June 2021.
 
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.
 
Press Service of the MFA Administration
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