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Geneva and the crisis in the Caucasus - Interview

Kemal Tarba, VOA News 

Finnish diplomat Antti Turunen, Special Representative of UN Secretary General in Georgia and co-chairman of the Geneva discussions, believes that negotiations should continue in order to avoid a new spiral of violence.

In June 2010 another round of international discussions on security and stability in the Caucasus was held in Geneva. However, the delegations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have decided to withdraw from the negotiating process "in connection with the lack of progress and justice."

Kemal Tarba: For what reasons did Abkhazia leave the Geneva talks on security in the Caucasus?

Antti Turunen: I would like to note that, as we understand the situation, the Abkhaz side has not left the Geneva talks, but it wishes to have sufficient time to prepare for the next round. Despite the fact that this was an unexpected statement, we treat it with understanding, since we are talking about sensitive issues, including the return of internally displaced persons and refugees. The Abkhaz delegation calls for a careful consideration of this issue and the participation of the co-chairmen in the consultations, so that all aspects be properly taken into account before the next round of negotiations.

KT: What are the Participants in the discussions trying to achieve?

Turunen: The main objective is to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Georgia. The EU Presidency has proposed that the agreements of 12 August 2008 and September 8 2008 should form the basis for the negotiations. We focus on two main aspects: first, safety issues (non-use of force and international security measures), and, secondly, humanitarian issues (the return of internally displaced persons and refugees, and human rights).

KT: What are the main results of the negotiations?

Turunen: The main result is the creation of two joint-mechanisms to prevent and respond to incidents - one for Abkhazia and another for South Ossetia. In the first case, negotiations have been held on a regular basis, and some level of confidence has been achieved in addressing pressing security issues. In general, the situation has improved security, and the co-chairmen consider it an encouraging and positive development. 

KT: What do you think about the prospects for the negotiations, taking into account the tough stance of the Abkhazian delegation?

Turunen: As I noted above, the issues are very delicate. Time and patience are needed to ensure that participants in the talks came to an understanding on major issues.

At the same time, the Geneva discussions are the only platform where interested parties can discuss issues of concern. I am sure that all members look forward to continuing the negotiations.

This gives hope that we can continue, and, in fact, we need to continue to negotiate to avoid a possible escalation of violence and the resumption of hostilities.

Source: VOA News - Женева и кризис на Кавказе

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