Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on the 41st round of the Geneva International Discussions

The 41st round of the Geneva International Discussions was held on 10-11 October 2017. One of the main topics of the discussions was the ongoing ethnic cleansing against Georgians remained in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions and Russia’s destructive actions.

During negotiations Georgian participants extensively discussed severe security, human rights and humanitarian situation in the occupied territories.

Representatives of Georgia sharply raised the issue of mass demolition of houses of Georgian IDPs in Eredvi village, as the continuation of ethnic cleansing and deliberate attempt to completely root out Georgian traces in Tskhinvali region. They urged the Co-Chairs to visit the destroyed Georgian villages in the occupied region and give assessment to the abovementioned illegal process.  

One of the top issues of the discussions was the ongoing ethnic discrimination in Gali district. Registration of local Georgian population as foreigners, compulsion to change their surnames and ethnical identity into Abkhazian ones, as well as violation of their fundamental rights were extensively discussed. Special emphasis was placed on prohibition of education in native language in Georgian schools of Gali and Akhalgori districts. The Georgian participants assessed the decision of the occupation regime not to detain the murderer of Giga Otkhozoria as encouragement of ethnically targeted violence. The Co-Chairs and representatives of the USA stressed the necessity of detention of the perpetrator.

All three Co-Chairs and the participants from Georgia and the USA underlined the necessity to resolve the problems with regard to freedom of movement and access of local population to their farm lands. Discussions focused on grave humanitarian implications of closure of so-called crossing-points, as well as installation of barbed wire fences and other artificial barriers along the occupation line that in its turn seriously destabilizes the situation on the ground. Problem of illegal detentions and kidnappings along the occupation line was also underscored.

The participants from Georgia further raised the issue of ongoing factual annexation of the occupied territories by the Russian Federation. As a recent example of this process, they highlighted Kremlin’s decision to create specialized customs point in Sokhumi, which will cover the whole territory of Abkhazia region.

Particular attention was paid to violations of the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement by Russia. Intensification of military build-up and military exercises in both occupied regions was underlined.

In this regard, participants from Georgia emphasized the necessity that Russia takes and implements the commitment on non-use of force. They underscored the need for creation of international security arrangements in the occupied territories in order to ensure the observance of non-use of force on the ground. Despite the constructive approach of Georgia with regard to the draft statement by participants of the Geneva International Discussions on non-use of force, Russia still denies to discuss the creation of international security arrangements on the ground, neglecting the commitments undertaken by point 5 of the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.

The Co-Chairs and participants from Georgia and the USA emphasized the necessity to hold substantial discussions on safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees. The representatives of Russia and its occupation regimes still tried to politicize the humanitarian issue and left the negotiations during this discussion.

Throughout discussions, urgent environmental challenges were raised, namely the damage caused by marmorated stink bug to conflict effected population. The participants reached the agreement to continue joint work with the aim of operative and effective response to ecological problems.

The next round of Geneva International Discussions will be held on 12-13 December 2017.

Within the frames of the Geneva International Discussions, the two Working Groups are held, where participants are represented in their individual capacity. In the first Working Group talks are focused on security and stability in the occupied territories of Georgia, while in second Working Group – on humanitarian and human rights situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, as well as on the issues related to safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees to the places of their origin. The discussions are held with Co-Chairmanship of the EU, UN and OSCE, and participation of Georgia, the Russian Federation and the USA. The Head of the Provisional Administration of the former South Ossetian Autonomous District and the Chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, as well as the representatives of the Sokhumi and Tskhinvali occupation regimes also attend the Working Groups.