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Geneva Discussions on Security and Stability in Transcaucasia

UNPO -- The ninth round of international discussions on security and stability in Transcaucasia is scheduled in Geneva for January 28. They have been held since October 2008 on the basis of the Russian and French presidents’ agreements reached after the tragic events of August 2008 in South Ossetia. Participating in the Geneva meetings on an equal footing are delegations from the Republic of Abkhazia, Georgia, the Russian Federation, the United States, the Republic of South Ossetia, and also the representatives of the EU, UN and OSCE. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs/State Secretary Grigory Karasin will head the Russian delegation.

As before, the discussions will be organized in two working groups – on security issues and on humanitarian problems, including refugees and displaced persons.

In the first group the Russian side intends to re-emphasize the urgency of concluding a legally binding document on the nonuse of force between Georgia, on the one hand, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia, on the other. With the continued bellicose rhetoric from Tbilisi, the unceasing calls by the Georgian leadership for Georgia's territorial integrity to be restored at any cost, and the buildup of the Georgian armed presence and maneuvers near the Abkhaz and South Ossetian borders, the provision to Sukhum and Tskhinval of firm security guarantees becomes even more important.

The problem of Georgia’s remilitarization, and the restoration of its offensive military capabilities that potentially could again lead to an aggravation of the situation in Transcaucasia with unpredictable consequences for the peoples and countries of the region, needs to be solved in parallel. All responsible actors in international relations must understand the perils of a policy of double standards toward Georgia, especially in regard to the covert supply of modern arms and materiel to it. The accelerated rearmament of the current adventurous regime in Tbilisi is fraught with a new wave of tension and the emergence of new threats to neighboring states, particularly South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

During the upcoming exchange of views on the current situation on the Abkhaz-Georgian and South Ossetian-Georgian borders, due attention will be paid to the state of work, concerns and ways to address them within the incident prevention and response mechanisms. A search needs to be continued for a solution to the problem of detainees and missing persons in the Georgian-South Ossetian border area, which prevents the normal functioning of the respective joint mechanism.

Given the transfer of the co-chairmanship of the OSCE in the Geneva discussions from the Greek representative to the representative of Kazakhstan and the upcoming renewal of the UN co-chairmanship, views are expected to be exchanged on the continuation of help from these organizations to meetings in Geneva and to the field activities of the incident prevention mechanisms. It is clear that any proposals on the activities of international organizations on the territory of Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be agreed with these countries and should take into account the new political and legal realities in Transcaucasia since August 2008.

The panel on humanitarian issues is expected to continue work on basic definitions in readying the parameters for the future commencement of the process of the return of refugees and displaced persons and as regards humanitarian aid to needy segments of the population in Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia. In this context it is important to note the negative impact on the solution of concrete issues of Georgia’s law on occupied territories, which is discriminatory. That was stated in the expert opinion of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. The Russian side has consistently advocated in Geneva for the development of a transparent, and acceptable to all concerned parties, approach to the return of refugees and displaced persons on the basis of internationally recognized principles of safety, voluntariness and mutual trust in this process.

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