On 25-26 June Geneva hosted the 24th round of the International Geneva Discussions on Security and Stability in the South Caucasus. The consultations which were held under the auspices of the EU, the UN and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), were also attended by the delegations of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Russia, Georgia and the United States. The delegation of the Republic of Abkhazia, headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Viacheslav Chirikba included Abkhazian diplomats Inar Gitsba, Lasha Avidzba, Kan Tania and Tengiz Tarba.
The discussions were traditionally conducted in two working groups - on security and humanitarian issues.
In the security group the Georgian side blocked the work on the text of a joint statement on the nonuse of force. Georgian officials have put an undue condition for inclusion in the name of the joint document of references for the need for the Russian declaration of non-use of force. The head of the Abkhaz delegation V.A. Chirikba called on all participants in the discussions, despite the presence of other important issues on the agenda, not to forget the main purpose of the Geneva process - signing a legally binding agreement on non-use of force.
The head of the delegation of Abkhazia said that the Abkhaz side views all the members of the Georgian delegation as representing only Georgian, and not any other, side. For Abkhazia it does not matter, as persons belonging to the Georgian delegation call themselves, as it is the internal affair of the Georgian side.
V.A. Chirikba welcomed the objective assessments of international observers, highlighting an overall improvement in the security situation on the territory of the Gal district of Abkhazia bordering with Georgia, which was the result of a series of measures taken by the leadership of Abkhazia. He also noted the decrease in the activity of subversive activities of Georgian special services in the Gal district. At the same time the Minister considers illegal the very formulation of the so-called problem of free movement across the Georgian-Abkhaz border, as well as "concern" regarding strengthening the border of Abkhazia and Georgia. It was noted that the issues of crossing the border, as well as its equipment and capacity, are the sovereign prerogative of the Republic of Abkhazia.
Chirikba expressed serious doubts about the proposed by the Co-chairs alternative of bilateral agreement as a set of unilateral declarations of participants on non-use of force. "We do not intend to believe unilateral Georgian claims of commitment to the peaceful solution of political problems with the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia, which are not supported by a bilateral agreement on non-use of force and international legal guarantees. Georgia has repeatedly carried out aggression against our people, and we are not so naive to believe that it suddenly became a peacemaker. For us strong guarantees of peace are our armed forces and relevant military agreements with the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, the signing of the agreement on non-use of force with Georgia, supported by international guarantees, would be the first step on the difficult path of restoring trust between the two countries. This is why we are participating in the Geneva discussions,"- said V. Chirikba.
The Abkhaz side has condemned the proposed by Georgia and approved by a number of delegations of the 57th session of the UN General Assembly resolution on refugees, which grossly distorted the humanitarian and political realities in the region. It was stated that the proposal of the draft resolution behind Abkhazia and South Ossetia without the possibility for Abkhazian and South Ossetian sides to express their vision of the issues raised in the resolution before the delegates of the General Assembly, is essentially a sabotage of the talks in Geneva. The Abkhazian delegation reiterated its call for the U.S. not to impose any impediments for the Abkhazian representatives to speak up in the General Assembly of the UN, participate in the debates that precede the vote on the draft resolutions that directly affect the interests of Abkhazia. It was also noted that, despite the strenuous efforts of the Georgian Foreign Minister to lobby for the resolution, the Georgian diplomats managed to persuade only two new countries to her approval. At the same time, the number of those countries that voted against the resolution or abstained has increased. It is significant that one of the factors contributing to the weak support for Georgia's resolution was circulated as an official document of the General Assembly with the support of the Russian Federation of the text of the appeal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia to the delegations not to vote or refrain from taking this unilateral and politicized resolution.
The Abkhaz side regrets the complete inability of the Georgian delegation to clearly explain the reason for its categorical refusal to participate in the proposed not only by the delegations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but also by the Co-chairs, new paradigm of negotiation, which implies a traditional work in two parallel groups, as well as summarizing the holding of joint meetings of delegations in its entirety. There was a noticeable nervousness amongst Georgian participants associated with fear to make at least one constructive compromise and a step that could be considered by the still in power old "command of hawks" of the President Saakashvili as a "betrayal of national interests." All this led to the regrettable early conclusion of another round of the Geneva discussions.
The Abkhaz side called the Co-chairs to undertake vigorous efforts to reach a consensus and not to be led by the Georgian side, which, in essence, found itself in isolated on a background of the expressed desire of all other participants in the discussions to work in a constructive way. It was stated that the failure of the Co-chairs to achieve from the Georgian representatives consent to work on the basis of the updated paradigm can directly affect the participation of delegation of Abkhazia in the next round of the Geneva discussions. If, because of the vagaries and obstruction of official Tbilisi the important forum of the Geneva discussions will be liquidated, the responsibility for the failure of international peace consultations will be on the Georgian side.
Source: MFA Abkhazia