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Russia hopes for constructive Geneva discussion on Transcaucasia — top diplomat

December 10, 2014, 10:06 UTC+3 GENEVA
Geneva is to host a new round of Discussions on Transcaucasia
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Head of the Russian delegation, Grigory Karasin during sixth session of the Caucasus talks in Geneva (archive)

Head of the Russian delegation, Grigory Karasin during sixth session of the Caucasus talks in Geneva (archive)


GENEVA, December 10. /TASS/. Russia expects that the next round of Geneva discussions on security and stability in Transcaucasia, opening on Wednesday, will be constructive, the head of the Russian delegation, Grigory Karasin, told Tass on Wednesday.

“We expect a serious and pragmatic approach to discussions on all issues around the situation in the region,” said Karasin, who is Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister.

It is expected that high priority will be placed on non-use of force. The Russian initiative to pass a draft joint statement on non-use of force has been on the table of negotiations for a long while.

Attempts to coordinate the draft document fail as Tbilisi demands from Russia to unilaterally declare non-use of force against Georgia. Moscow does not see itself as a party in the conflict five years ago and consistently refuses to sign such an agreement with Tbilisi.

Geneva discussions have continued for more than five years on the basis of agreements of the Russian and French presidents following the developments of August 2008, when Georgia attacked the breakaway region of South Ossetia, making Russia bring its troops into the region.

Taking part in consultations under the auspices of the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are representatives from Abkhazia, Georgia, Russia, the US and South Ossetia.

Another outstanding question is on the mechanisms to prevent incidents at the border between Georgia and Abkhazia.

At the previous round in Geneva in October, the participants discussed issuing visas for representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia for trips to various forums and international meetings in the European Union. This time, this question may be on the agenda again.

“The agenda (of the discussions) includes the situation with security in the border areas of Abkhazia and Georgia, as well as the text of the planned joint statement of the discussion participants on the non-use of force,” Abkhazian Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Chirikba said, adding the Abkhazian side in the working group on security would against raise the issue of the freedom of movement of Abkhazian citizens.

“The Georgian side and other discussion participants will most likely raise the issue of the new big Treaty on Allied Relations and Strategic Partnership between Abkhazia and Russia that was signed in Sochi on November 24,” Chirikba said. “As you know, in connection with the treaty signing Georgia accuses Russia of all but annexation of Abkhazia. Of course, these are ungrounded speculations and the Abkhazian side has plenty of arguments to dispel such allegations.”

On December 5, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference in Basel the new agreement between Russia and Abkhazia has nothing to do with the Geneva Discussions on Transcaucasia. “As for the Geneva Discussions, the relations between Russia and Abkhazia have nothing to do to their contents,” the foreign minister said.

South Ossetia hopes for progress in work on a legally binding document on non-use of force against the republic, its presidential envoy Murat Dzhioyev said in November at a meeting with a co-chair of the Geneva Discussions. “South Ossetia is concerned about Georgia’s initiatives to approaching NATO, and we are concerned about the peace and security in the region. We hope the upcoming round will demonstrate at least a small, but very important step in the work on the non-use of force by the parties, which is a main task of the Geneva Discussions,” he said.

Leaders of the Georgian delegation have changed. Now, its head is First Deputy Foreign Minister David Dondua. The delegation also features Deputy Minister of Justice Gocha Lordkipanidze. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said on the eve of the Discussions, Georgia at the next round would be represented by a new team. “A new team from Georgia will come to Geneva,” he said. “We do not know them as yet.” Russia is set for productive dialogue. “Most importantly, all participants in the Discussions are for Transcaucasia’s predictability,” the Russian diplomat said.

The Geneva discussions on Transcaucasia security involve representatives of the Republic of Abkhazia, Georgia, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, the Republic of South Ossetia, as well as the UN, the OSCE and the EU. They are held for more than 5 years based on agreements between the Russian and French presidents reached after the August 2008 events when Georgia attacked South Ossetia, forcing Russia to bring troops to the region. Soon after that Moscow recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia and independent states.

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