Georgian President Suggests Changing Format of Geneva Int’l Discussions

The first female President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili believes that the Geneva International Discussions (GID), which represents the only format of an international dialogue between Georgia and Russia, needs to be changed into a higher-level of diplomatic and political dialogue.

“The Geneva International Discussions format to resolve the conflict in Georgia's Occupied Territories needs to be changed into a higher level of diplomatic and political dialogue. We cannot resolve our conflict with a format that merely addresses technical issues,” Zurabishvili tweeted.

Later on, President's Spokesperson Khatia Moistsrapishvili gave a more detailed explanation regarding Zurabishvili’s initiative.

“The President states that it is necessary to use all the existing formats related to the occupied territories and conflicts, and to use all tribunes in order that we and our partners regularly remind the Russians of their obligations and to call for the obligations taken under various agreements to be kept to,” she said.

Moiststapishvili added that the initiative does not mean that in the President’s mind the GID should be substituted by another mechanism.

“The Geneva format has no alternative, but recent years have shown that only technical issues are solved within this format. It does not respond to political demands. Consequently, the President believes that it is necessary to update this format to include essential political dialogue. If this happens within the Geneva format, we welcome it, otherwise, other ways should be found to conduct a political dialogue,” she said.

Zurabishvili mentioned the issue during her first report before MPs when summing up her visits abroad.

“The format of negotiations is only at the technical level. Together with our partners, I talked about the necessity of renewing a high political format. They need to understand in Russia that in the 21st century aggressive politics should be left behind,” she told MPs.

The President raised the same issue during the visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, last week, telling him that due to Russia’s activities, the situation along the occupation line is very tense and includes kidnappings and other threats made against Georgia’s NATO membership goal.

“Georgia does not waver from its peaceful plans. Georgia has no other policy – it has only a peace policy, which means that the Geneva International Discussions format should be more efficient and should have a serious political influence. We cannot try to resolve the conflict on merely a technical level as no real progress on resolving the conflict in a peaceful manner is taking place through this format as long as our partners do not remind Russia to fulfill its commitments,” she told the Secretary General.

The GID is held four times a year with co-chairmanship of the EU, UN and OSCE, and with the participation of Georgia, the Russian Federation and the USA. The representatives of the occupation regimes of Georgia’s breakaway Sokhumi and Tskhinvali regions also attend the Working Groups.

The talks are usually held within a two meeting-group format. At the first meeting, the sides discuss security and stability issues in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, while the second meeting concerns the safe return of Internally Displaced Persons and refugees to their homes.

By Thea Morrison

Image source: RFE/RL

28 March 2019 17:33