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Russian diplomat says Geneva discussions on Transcaucasia were constructive

March 24, 2016, 8:59 UTC+3 GENEVA

The most important result of this round, according to the diplomat, was a principled agreement to restart work of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) at the Georgian-Abkhazian border

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Grigory Karasin

Grigory Karasin

© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

GENEVA, March 24. /TASS/. A regular, 35th, round of Geneva Discussions on security and stability in Transcaucasia was held in a "rather constructive atmosphere," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told TASS on Wednesday after the two-day talks.

Over the three months after the previous round of the Geneva consultations, the situation in the region has been "generally calm and relatively stable," he said.

Peace mechanism

The most important result of this round, according to Karasin, was a principled agreement to restart work of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) at the Georgian-Abkhazian border. The IPRM operation in Gal was suspended in April 2012.

"A principal agreement has been achieved to resume this mechanism," said Karasin. "Quite good agreements have been reached but the decision to re-start the work of Gal’s IPRM on Georgia’s border with Abkhazia is a major positive result."

According to the Russian diplomat, a similar mechanism "is working efficiently enough" at the Georgian-South Ossetian border, holding regular monthly meetings and helping stabilize the situation and solve disputable issues linked with border violations. So, it is helping to "ease tension between the two countries," Karasin said, adding that Moscow hopes the resumption of IPRM’s work at the Georgian-Abkhazian border "will also promote positive development of relations between these two countries."

Mutual respect and trust

The sides lauded the March 10 three-party exchange of prisoners and convicts as an example of good cooperation which proved that "the feeling of mutual respect and trust is gradually making headway in Tbilisi’s relations with Tskhinval and Sukhum," the Russian deputy foreign minister said, adding that communications hotlines are working fail-free in border regions, which "helps considerably." The sides, in his words, continue to implement joint environmental and irrigation projects, exchange archive documents.

Apart from that, efforts are being taken to curb crime in border regions. Thus, the number of crimes in Abkhazia’s Gal region reduced three-fold in 2015 as compared with two previous years. "This is a good figure which demonstrates that life goes on as it should and the measure that are being taken, thanks to the Geneva discussions in particular, are becoming an efficient mechanism and have positive effect on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia," Karasin stressed.

Fly in the ointment

Naturally, there have been some incidents, such as "open provocations, damage to border marks and engineering structures," since the previous Geneva round. The Russian diplomat noted that such things always happen "when Georgian politician deliberately stage rallies in border areas."

NATO-related worries

Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia have expressed their concerns over intensive military cooperation of Georgia and NATO, Karasin noted. "Representatives of Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia again raised their concerns over boosting military cooperation of Georgia and NATO," he said. "Naturally, the young Caucasian republics view it as a threat to their national sovereignty, taking into account the sentiments ruling in Tbilisi."

Another major subject discussed at this round of consultations was non-use of force in the region. "I must admit that the majority of participants have done good job and issued a brief draft statement on that matter," he said. "Regrettably, Georgia’s representatives dodged agreement of this document again. But I think this work will be continued, since such joint stamen is extremely important for the atmosphere of the discussions and the situation in the region."

Possibility to speak up

Abkhazia and South Ossetia will seek an opportunity with Russia’s support to present their position at the United Nations on the issues Georgia includes in draft resolutions on refugees and displaced people, the Russian diplomat said. "We still deal with attempts of Georgia’s representatives to submit draft resolutions on refugees and displaced people to the UN General Assembly," he noted. "Participants in the Geneva Discussions openly pointed to counter-productivity of such attempts which hamper business-like discussions on refugees here, in Geneva."

"Abkhazia and South Ossetia with our support will strive to go to New York and to present their independent point of view with regard to the issues which Georgia stages as crucial in these resolutions," Karasin said.

"We will insist that our partners from Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be granted this right both by UN Secretariat and the U.S. in the context of visas," the head of the Russian delegation said. "We will continue this work."

The Geneva Discussions on security and stability in the South Caucasus are the only platform for a dialogue between Georgia and the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. They are held under the auspices of the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) with participation of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Georgia, Russia and the United States.

The Geneva Discussions were held upon agreements reached by the Russian and French presidents after tragic events in August 2008 in South Ossetia when Georgia attacked it. That entailed Russia's peacemaking operation in the region. Soon after that Moscow recognized independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

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