Fatal Incident on Georgia-Abkhaz Border Again Dominates IPRM Talks

GALI, Georgia – A monthly meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) took place Tuesday at the UN Office in Gali, a town located between Georgia and its Russian-backed breakaway region of Abkhazia.

Georgian, Abkhaz, Russian and representatives of the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) participated in the meeting chaired by the United Nations.

According to the EUMM press release, the discussions were constructive and professional in nature.

The fatal incident that took place on May 19 in the village of Khurcha that left one Georgian citizen dead was the main topic of discussion at the meeting.

The Georgian side has repeatedly demanded that the Abkhaz rebel authorities hand over the separatist border guard who is accused of carrying out the shooting.

The deputy of the head of the analytical department of Georgia’s State Security Service, David Kobakhidze said the Abkhaz side refuses to extradite the accused individual as they want to use the incident as political leverage.

According Kobakhidze, the separatist government in Abkhazia is requesting a tit-for-tat legal cooperation, which the Georgian side flatly rejects.

Representatives of the meeting also discussed the issue of discrimination of ethnic Georgians living in Abkhazia, including restrictions on their freedom of movement and the right to an education in Georgian.

The IPRM meetings are regularly held with Georgia’s other breakaway region, South Ossetia. Meetings between Tbilisi and the Abkhaz side are rare as contact between the two were suspended in March 2012.

In April 2012, Abkhazia’s Foreign Ministry opted out of the talks after it accused the European Union Monitoring Mission ignored their requests and continued to carry out independent checks without notifying the separatist government and their Russian patrons.

Immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian-backed rebels in Abkhazia broke away from Georgia. Moscow occupied and effectively annexed the area, as well as Georgia’s other breakaway South Ossetia region.

Moscow recognized South Ossetia and the other occupied Abkhazia region as independent states following the 2008 war. International law and the United Nations continue to state that the regions remain part of Georgia.

The next IPRM meeting will be held in Gali on September 8.

By Tamar Svanidze
Edited by Nicholas Waller

Photo: EUMM

03 August 2016 15:52