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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister: Geneva discussions on South Caucasus are fierce & tough

June 15, 23:08 UTC+3 GENEVA
"Georgia is initiating the notorious resolution on refugees and displaced persons at the United Nations from year to year," the diplomat said
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GENEVA, June 15 /TASS/. The 36th round of Geneva discussions on security and stability in South Caucasus was tough largely due to Georgia’s proposed draft resolution on refugees and displaced persons, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, the head of the Russian delegation, told TASS.

"Georgia is initiating the notorious resolution on refugees and displaced persons at the United Nations from year to year," the diplomat said. "This year, Tbilisi decided to submit the draft, which actually copies all the previous drafts, once again," Karasin added.

Representatives of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Russia refused to discuss the refugee issue, which is part of agenda with the humanitarian group, in Geneva. According to Karasin, that was done in a sign of fundamental disagreement with Tbilisi’s behavior. A tragic incident, which occurred on the Georgian-Abkhazian border on May 19, certainly affected the atmosphere of the Geneva discussions.

"It is a tragic incident, in which a Georgian national died. The Mechanism for the prevention and reaction to incidents held an extraordinary meeting to discuss the matter. The investigation will continue," Karasin said. He added that Georgia’s representative Deputy Foreign Minister David Dondua had tried to politicize the subject as much as possible during the Geneva consultations.

Karasin said that the Georgian elections slated for October 8 had apparently added firmness to Georgia’s stance at the Geneva discussions. "They defended their stance on items on the agenda tougher than usual," the diplomat said.

At the same time, the sides in the Geneva discussions said that the situation in the border regions was relatively calm and was under control. "The cross-border movement in both directions is growing," Karasin added.

The next round of the Geneva consultations will take place on October 4-5. "The Geneva discussions certainly play a positive role to an extent that they make it possible to remove - even if in fierce polemics - thorny issues or at least to discuss them openly. That helps making the situation in the region predictable and relatively stable," Karasin concluded.

UN’s adoption of Georgia-initiated draft resolution

The United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of a Georgia-initiated draft resolution on refugees and displaced persons has complicated the June 14-15 round of international consultations on South Caucasus in Geneva.

"The general atmosphere of the meeting was seriously impaired by the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly in June 7 of a Georgia-initiated resolution on refugees and displaced persons which was worded in an extremely politicized manner having little to do with the real state of things," the ministry said. "Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s delegations expressed their resolute protest in this respect and demanded the provision about refugees be excluded from the agenda of the Geneva discussions and refused to discuss this subject until the Georgian side stops initiating its documents in New York which are useless in terms of easing the refugee situation. The Russian delegation supported the position of the two independent republics."

"Regret was expressed over the U.S. State Department’s another visa denial to representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to make it possible for them to inform the United Nations member states about their point of view on the humanitarian situation in the region," the ministry said. "It facilitates objective and constructive work neither in Geneva nor in New York."

The European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as well as Abkhazia, Georgia, Russia, the United States and South Ossetia participate in the UN-mediated consultations. They are the only platform for dialogue between Georgia and the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which is conducted on the basis of agreements between the presidents of Russia and France reached after the 2008 Georgian aggression against South Ossetia. That prompted Russia to send its troops to the region. Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia shortly after.

NATO’s increased activities in Georgia

NATO’s increased activities in Georgia cause concern of participants in international discussions on problems of South Caucasus a regular round of which was held in Geneva on June 14-15.

"Serious concern was expressed over another spiral of NATO’s activities in Georgia, in particular, the recent Noble Partner 2016 drills," the ministry said. "On the background of bellicose statements by a number of Georgian politicians, the exercises meant to drill the alliance’s quick deployment of forces from Europe to Georgia, including tanks and armored vehicles, cause absolutely grounded alarm in Sukhum and Tskhinval."

"In this context, Tbilisi’s actual refusal to adopt a joint statement of participants in the Geneva discussions on the non-use of force was seen as a non-constructive approach to a major subject of talks," the ministry underscored.

Representatives of South Ossetia expressed concern over "the Georgian side’s provocative practices of damaging border signs, including with the use of firearms, and infiltrating of Georgian law enforcers into the republic’s territory." Tbilisi’s attention was once again drawn to the urgent necessity to begin the process of joint delimitation and demarcation of the borders with neighboring republics.

Another round of international discussions on problems of South Caucasus involving representatives of Abkhazia, Georgia, Russia, the United States and South Ossetia and co-chaired by the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union was held in Geneva. The Russian delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.

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