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Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

 

Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia regarding the forthcoming fifteenth round of the Geneva Discussions, scheduled for March 4, 2011

Fifteenth round of the Geneva Discussions on the security and stability in Georgia's occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and the safe and dignified return of the IDPs and refugees will be held on March 4, 2011.

It is planned to hold the meetings of the two working groups, in which participants will take part in an individual capacity. Deliberations will be moderated by the EU, UN and the OSCE and will be attended by the participants from Georgia, Russian Federation and the United States. Head of the provisional administration of the former South Ossetian Autonomous District Mr. Dimitri Sanakoev and the Chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia Mr. Giorgi Baramia will take part in the forthcoming round together with the representatives of the proxy regimes from Tskhinvali and Sokhumi.

Participants from Georgia will raise three central issues at the next round of the Geneva Discussions.

First, Russian Federation has to undertake the non-use of force commitment towards Georgia. After the initiative of the President Saakashvili not to use force against the occupation forces of Russia, as well as the proxy regimes in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali there is a need for Russia to reciprocate with the similar obligation. Georgia's pledge, also reified in the letters of the President to the Secretary Generals of the UN, OSCE and NATO, as well as the Presidents of the European Commission, European Parliament, European Council and the United States, constitutes the unilateral assumption of binding obligation under international law. Georgian side would like to once again reiterate that Russia's rhetoric on the necessity to sign a non-use of force agreement between Tbilisi on the one hand and Sokhumi and Tskhinvali on the other, has a sole aim of legitimizing the proxy regimes under international law and is a clumsy excuse to avoid its own responsibility of non-use of force. After Georgia's unilateral pledge the time has come for the Russian Federation to assume the non-use of force obligation. With this step Russia will demonstrate that its intentions towards Georgia are peaceful and no further military aggression is planned against its sovereign neighbor.

Second issue, which will be raised by the participants from Tbilisi is the necessity of establishing international security arrangements in the occupied Georgian regions. Because of Russia's decision to get rid of UN and OSCE presences from Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and artificial obstacles as a result of which EUMM is unable to enter the occupied regions, security and human rights situation in these regions lacks transparency and accountability. Security arrangements, comprising of international peacekeeping and police forces will stabilize the situation in the occupied regions, will contribute to the overall stability in the wider region and will be conducive for the safe return of the IDPs to their homes. In this context, Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to underline that Tbilisi is carefully watching developments in New York. We are receiving alarming information that the Russian Federation is trying to suffocate the current UN Team through blocking the financing mechanisms necessary for its functioning. Georgian side is ready to engage in the dialogue with the Russian Federation and the UN to find ways how to continue UN participation in the Geneva Discussions and the IPRMs. It will be a great loss for the Geneva process and the confidence-building process in general, if Russia succeeds yet again in diminishing the international involvement in the peace process.

Third issue, which is on the table, but on which there is no progress because of Russia's unwillingness to engage, is the return of the IDPs and refugees in safety and dignity to their places of habitual residence. Russia has been blocking the return process through various artificial reasons. This time, we hope that Moscow will unlock the process and substantial discussions will take place on the modalities of return without discrimination to all parts of occupied Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.

At the fifteenth round of the Geneva Discussions, the Georgian authorities will once again request from the Russian side full cooperation regarding the series of explosions on the territory of Georgia in September-November 2010. All relevant materials have been submitted to the Russian side through the Swiss Embassy in Tbilisi as well as at the margins of the fourteenth round of the Geneva Talks in December 2010. However, so far no response has been received from the Russian side. It is alarming that Russia seems to be covering up the persons, who are currently located at the occupied Georgian regions and who seem to be involved in the organization of a series of terrorist acts.

Together with these issues, Georgian side will draw the attention of the co-chairs to the unacceptable hostile statements voiced from Moscow over the last few weeks. Several Russian legislators have issued groundless, absurd, but alarming accusations that allegedly Georgia is behind the tragic terrorist attack in Domodedovo. Such statements clearly demonstrate that current Russian regime is in the process of creating the enemy image from Georgia, in order to justify its impotence and failures in domestic and international affairs.

Moreover, participants from Tbilisi will bring to the attention of the relevant working groups several appalling facts that have taken place since the recent Geneva round in December 2011. Among such facts are the blatant violations of the property rights in both occupied regions and the launch of the so-called population census by the Sokhumi proxy regime - clearly aimed at legitimizing the results of the heinous crimes of ethnic cleansing undertaken during the last two decades by Moscow and its proxy forces. Property rights will be discussed as a separate agenda item in the second working group, and participants from Tbilisi will categorically request the reversal of the discriminatory policy towards ethnic Georgians.

Another issue, which will be once again raised by the Georgian side will be the necessity to release all detained persons currently held in illegal captivity in the occupied territories. While some progress has been reached in this regard recently, several people still remain in detention and their release is mandatory.

During the fifteenth round Georgian side will once again voice its concerns with the facts of infringing cultural heritage in the occupied regions and will request that relevant international organizations become more actively involved in scrutinizing the protection of cultural heritage.

 

Tbilisi, 2 March 2011

 

 
 

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