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GENEVA, December 18. /ITAR-TASS/. The 26th round of the international discussions on security and stability in the Transcaucasia started in Geneva on Wednesday, December 18.
Participating in the consultations, held under the auspices of the United Nations, the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), are delegations from Abkhazia, Georgia, Russia, the United States, and South Ossetia. Traditionally, discussions are conducted in two working groups: on security and on humanitarian issues.
The first group “will focus on the development of reliable guarantees for non-use of force by Georgia against its neighbors,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement ahead of the consultations.
“The participants in the meeting will continue considering draft documents in this field, including the Russian initiative to adopt a joint statement of all parties to the Geneva discussions on the non-use of force,” the ministry said.
However Tbilisi has balked, demanding that Russia make a unilateral statement on the non-use of force against Georgia. But Moscow does not consider itself a party to the conflict of five years ago and refuses to make such a deal with Tbilisi.
“The humanitarian group continues to discuss relevant issues of mutual interest to the participants, including exchanges of persons detained in border-lying regions and the search for those missing,” the ministry said.
The current round of consultations is the first one since Georgian President Georgy Margvelashvili was sworn in. After the previous round, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, who leads the Russian delegation to the consultations, expressed hope that the discussions would become more constructive after the change of leadership in Georgia, but did not expect any major change in Tbilisi’s position.
The election of Margvelashvili the new president “winds up a very grim period when Mikhail Saakashvili was president, generates new hopes and refreshes the atmosphere,” Karasin said.
However he noted that “processes are underway in Georgia and its leadership has reiterated the foreign policy that was once declared by Mikhail Saakashvili.”
Karasin said that hopes for progress at the Geneva after the change of president and government in Georgia had not come true.
Speaking after the conclusion of the 25th round of consultations in November, he said no progress had been made on the agreement on the non-use of force in the region. “We hoped that we would be able to adopt a statement of the parties to the Geneva discussions on the non-use of force in principle, in support of the statements made to this effect earlier. Unfortunately, this did not happen,” Karasin said.
At the same time, he admitted that “hostility and blatantly confrontational notes have disappeared.”
Participating in the just-concluded consultations were delegations of Abkhazia, Georgia, Russia, the United States, and South Ossetia.
The Geneva International Discussions address the consequences of the 2008 conflict in Georgia, and are chaired by Ambassador Andrii Deshchytsia, EU Special Representative Philippe Lefort and U.N. Representative Antti Turunen.
Reporting on the meetings of the Ergneti Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) established by the Geneva Discussions, Ambassador Andrei Deshchytsia welcomed the decrease in security-related incidents. Three meetings have been held since the start of the year.
The Geneva discussions take place under the auspices of the United Nations, the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and involve delegations of the Republic of Abkhazia, Georgia, Russia, the United States, and the Republic of South Ossetia.
The Geneva International Discussions, launched after the August 2008 conflict in Georgia, are co-chaired by the OSCE, EU and U.N., and bring together representatives of Georgia, the Russian Federation, the United States, Tskhinvali and Sukhumi. The establishment of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs) was one of their outcomes. The Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms were established under the Geneva International Discussions, which are co-chaired by the OSCE, the EU and the U.N.