Russia and Its Occupation Regimes Leave 41st Round of Geneva Discussions

Representatives of the Russian federation and de facto authorities of Georgia’s occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia left the 41st round of Geneva International Discussions while discussing the issues on safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees to their homes.

The information was released by Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), which says that the talks were held on October 11-12 in Geneva.

The talks, which are the only format of dialogue between Georgia and Russia since August 2008 war, are usually held within a two meeting-group format. At one 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 (IDPs) and refugees to their homes. 

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. 

At the meeting Georgian participants raised the issues of severe security, human rights and humanitarian situation in the occupied territories. They also mentioned the issue of mass demolition of houses of Georgian IDPs in Eredvi village, assessing the fact “as the continuation of ethnic cleansing and deliberate attempt to completely root out Georgian traces in Tskhinvali region.”

Georgian side urged the Co-Chairs to visit the destroyed Georgian villages in the occupied region and duly assess illegal process there.

MFA also says that they raised issue of ongoing ethnic discrimination in Gali district, adding registration of local Georgian population as foreigners, compulsion to change their surnames and ethnical identity into Abkhazian ones, represent violation of the human fundamental rights.

Prohibition of education in native language in Georgian schools of Gali and Akhalgori districts was also condemned by the Georgian side.

The participants shared their assessments on the case of the killing of an unarmed Georgian civilian, Giga Otkhozoria, along the ABL by so-called border guard Rashid Kanji-Oghli on 19 May 2016. The Co-Chairs and representatives of the USA stressed the necessity of detention of the perpetrator.

MFA reports that Georgia further raised the issue of ongoing factual annexation of the occupied territories by the Russian Federation. As a recent example of this process, they highlighted Kremlin’s decision to create specialized customs point in Sokhumi, which will cover the whole territory of Abkhazia region. 

The participants from Georgia said it is necessity that Russia takes and implements the commitment on non-use of force undertaken under August 12, 2008 agreement.

“Despite the constructive approach of Georgia with regard to the draft statement by participants of the Geneva International Discussions on non-use of force, Russia still denies to discuss the creation of international security arrangements on the ground, neglecting the commitments undertaken by point 5 of the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement,” the MFA said.

The next round of Geneva International Discussions will be held on 12-13 December 2017.

By Thea Morrison

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13 October 2017 00:24