SUKHUM -- The Geneva consultations on security in Transcaucasia has become the main topic of the President’s advisor on international affairs Viacheslav Chirikba’s press conference held in the Association of employees of mass-media of the Republic of Abkhazia on February 8.
According to Chirikba, for the time being within the framework of the Geneva discussions they managed to create the five-sided Mechanism on incident prevention and response. Chirikba called the Mechanism “a useful format”, allowing the parties to exchange information on the situation in the border areas.
“The main problem”, according to Chirikba, is reaching the Agreement on the non-use of force. He emphasized that the Georgian party was interested in two moments: “deoccupation” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, i.e. withdrawal of Russian troops from there, and introduction of international forces in the zone of the conflict. “It has caused a resolute protest of the Abkhaz, Russian and South Ossetian delegations”, he said. “We declared that “such unexpected about-faces” threw discredit upon the future of the Geneva process as the subject of negotiations disappeared at all”.
“Eventually, Americans and Georgians decided to take the strain off the situation and said that they were interested in discussing this Agreement, however some preconditions were necessary. So we departed with that – without any results”, Chirikba said.
“We expected long, but discussions of documents and projects on the non-use of force what is important not only for Abkhazia, but also for Georgia”, Chirikba said. “But Georgia declared that it was interested in signing this document with Russia as it didn’t recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia doesn’t need this document, as it’s not afraid of Georgia’s attack. It is the Transcaucasia countries that are interested in stability: Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia”.
Vyacheslav Chirikba stressed the importance of Abkhazia’s participation in the Geneva process as it gives it a chance to state its position on the international scene. “The fact that Abkhazia and South Ossetia speak in the Palace of Nations as equals with other delegations, is a positive fact”, the President’s adviser said.
Nevertheless, according to Chirikba, if it becomes clear that it’s impossible to agree with Georgia on the Agreement on the non-use of force, the Geneva process will come to the end. “If Georgia shows common sense and decides that the Agreement is nevertheless important, we are ready to continue the discussions”, the President of Abkhazia’s adviser emphasized.
“We are ready for hard negotiations since we face difficult political problems, but we don’t need negotiations for the sake of negotiations for someone to tick off that the process is in the progress. We need a considerable result. We are ready to wait for it some time, but are not ready to be engaged in the imitation of a political process”, the Abkhaz delegation head on the Geneva discussions said.
If the Geneva discussions stop, according to Chirikba, it will block the last communication channel between Abkhazia and Georgia, Abkhazia and the EU. “In this case there will be practically no ties, except for informal contacts”, he added.
The following tenth round of the Geneva discussions on security in Transcaucasia is scheduled for March 30. “However we are not sure we will take part in it. All will depend on the agenda. We have warned the organizers that they shouldn’t follow the tastes of one of the parties, and determine the agenda to please it. If there is no schedule of stage-by-stage discussion of draft agreements on the non-use of force, the question of our further participation in those negotiations will arise”, Chirikba said.
As to the group on humanitarian problems, according to Chirikba, Georgia refuses to admit return of refugees to the Gal district, calling it spontaneous.
“Verification of refugees is very important for us. We have returned them unilaterally to the Gal district, where they have lived for more than 10 years. However the UNHCR cannot verify and register them without Georgia’s consent. 55 thousand people have returned to the Gal district, but actually they are considered refugees in the territory of Georgia. Our task is first of all to try to achieve verification of the refugees who have come back to Abkhazia, and to have them excluded from the total number of Georgian refugees. Secondly, we need verification of refugees in the Zugdidi district of Georgia. The figures should be transparent and accessible for everyone”, Chirikba said. “These things are also important for the international community. They should also know the exact number of refugees as the Georgian authorities are constantly speculating on it, saying that it’s either 300 thousand people, or 500 thousand”.
The Abkhaz party, according to Chirikba, is also interested in the issues of restitution and damage compensation since an enormous damage has been caused to the republic and Abkhazia’s citizens as a result of the war. At that Chirikba stressed that no question of return of refugees to any other district of Abkhazia, except for the Gal one, was discussed.
According to the President’s adviser on international affairs, after the ninth round of the Geneva discussions was over, the Abkhaz delegation visited Paris on the invitation of Institute of Democracy and Cooperation headed by a State Duma MP Natalia Narochnitskaya. According to him, a very interesting meeting with diplomats, conflict experts and Caucasus experts took place there.
Viacheslav Chirikba delivered a lecture on the situation in Abkhazia, the negotiations which aroused great interest. “Experts asked a lot of questions, and it’s important that they had a chance to receive information at first hand. We need more such meetings as there is very little information from Abkhazia, especially in English”, Chirikba said.
As a result of the meeting taken place in Paris, interesting humanitarian and scientific contacts have began. “It was a successful visit to France, and we are happy with its positive results”, the President’s adviser on international affairs Viacheslav Chirikba summarized.