GENEVA (Itar-Tass) - The 7th round of Geneva discussions on security and stability in Transcaucasia began in Geneva on Thursday.
The consultations involve delegations of Abkhazia, Georgia, Russia, the United States and South Ossetia. They are underway under the auspices of the U.N., the EU and the OSCE.
The discussions are holding at the Geneva’s headquarters of the International Labour Organisation within the format of two working groups – for security and for humanitarian issues. Before the consultations the Russian Foreign Ministry said, “Russia’s priorities are to solve security problems in the region.” “It’s the main purposes of Russia’s proposals in Geneva, first of all on a draft agreement on the non-use of force between Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” the ministry.
The Geneva discussions take place from October 2008 in compliance with the agreements reached by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The agreements were reached after Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia on August 8, 2008.
Russia is represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, South Ossetia by presidential plenipotentiary envoy for the post-conflict settlement Boris Chochiyev and Abkhazia by presidential aide for international issues Vyacheslav Chirikba. Georgia’s delegation is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Bokeriya.
After the talks the delegations and organisers will hold separate press conferences.
Earlier this month, U.N. Special Representative Johan Verbeke visited Abkhazia for talks with its leadership. Verbeke said the U.N. is satisfied with the five-party meetings and their results. It is important the U.N. to be involved in this process and chair the meetings, he stressed.
He also said the meeting also focused on winding up the U.N. Mission in Abkhazia. In his words, by the end of September the U.N. Monitoring Mission in Georgia will be fully disbanded and leave Abkhazia. At the same time, Verbeke said the U.N. would take part in peace talks to stabilise the situation.
President Sergei Bagapsh said Abkhazia would continue to take part in the Geneva process and did not share international mediators’ intention to delay the discussions.
In his annual address to the parliament in June, Bagapsh said, “In the future the Geneva process can acquire a new form, which will replace the former scheme within the U.N. Secretary-General Group of Friends.”
“The fate of the Geneva discussions will mostly depend on a new U.N. mandate. Today we can say there is understanding on changed conditions and the world community really assesses the situation in Abkhazia,” Bagapsh said.
In his words, “The May 18 report by the U.N. Secretary-General does not mention that Abkhazia is part of Georgia. There is no formula as ‘Abkhazia, Georgia’, ‘de facto authorities’.” The president stressed that for the first time “the U.N. Secretary-General is neutral”. In his opinion, “such approach proves of flexibility that the U.N. is ready to express towards Abkhazia.”