Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on the 44th round of the Geneva International Discussions

The 44th round of the Geneva International Discussions was held on 20 June 2018. The necessity of execution of justice on the case of murder of Georgian IDP Archil Tatunashvili and urgent need for implementation of the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement by the Russian Federation were raised at the Discussions with particular emphasis.
 
Representatives from Georgia handed over to the Co-chairs and participants of the Geneva International Discussions the interim report of Levan Samkharauli National Forensics Bureau that clearly illustrates the fact of torture and murder of Archil Tatunashvili. They briefed on the charges filed in absentia by the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia against the representatives of the so-called law-enforcement agency of the occupied Tskhinvali region, Davit Gurtsiev and Alik Taboev for the illegal detention and assistance in group torture. Georgian participants once again condemned the delayed return of the body without the internal organs. They called on the Russian Federation to immediately hand over the internal organs in order to ensure the proper conduct of forensic examination. Georgian participants laid the full responsibility for this case on the Russian Federation as the power exercising effective control and called on Russia not to hinder the execution of justice on the case of the murder of Archil Tatunashvili. It was stressed that deprivation of life of ethnic Georgians has become a concerning trend and the murder of Giga Otkhozoria and David Basharuli by the representatives of occupation regimes is a clear demonstration of that. The Co-Chairs as well as the participants from the US and Georgia underlined the necessity of bringing the perpetrators to justice. The representatives of Russia and the occupation regimes could not provide reasonable answers to the raised questions.
 
Particular focus was made on Russia’s non-compliance with the EU mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement. The participants from Georgia stressed the urgent need for elaboration of concrete steps for implementation of the Agreement by Moscow in order to ensure gradual withdrawal of illegally deployed Russian forces from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions and creation of international security arrangements therein. The representatives of Georgia underlined the necessity of affirmation and implementation of the non-use of force commitment by Russia. Against this background, the Russian Federation tried to portray with usual cynicism as if it had already implemented the Ceasefire Agreement.
 
At the negotiations special emphasis was made on the necessity of access of the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) to the occupied territories of Georgia. It was pointed out that the latest provocative actions against the Mission by the Russian occupation forces are unacceptable. It was stressed that through such kind of steps the Russian Federation further hinders the implementation of EUMM’s mandate.
 
Grave security, human rights and humanitarian situation in Georgia’s occupied territories was extensively discussed. Special attention was paid to the ongoing military build-up and illegal military exercises in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, as well as to the steps taken by the Russian Federation towards factual annexation of Georgia’s occupied regions. Participants from Georgia expressed concern over the installation of razor and barbed wire fences and other artificial barriers along the occupation line. They assessed the decision of Tskhinvali occupation regime about the creation of so-called “commission on demarcation and delimitation of border” as provocation. Discussions also focused on further aggravation of living conditions of local population as a result of closure of so-called crossing points, restriction of freedom of movement and other discriminatory measures. It was underlined that illegal detentions and kidnappings are unacceptable. In this context, the issues of arbitrary detentions of clergymen as well as restriction of access for local population to their agricultural land plots were discussed.
 
Continuation of ethnic discrimination of Georgians in the occupied regions was a particular topic of discussions in both working groups. Representatives of Georgia assessed as a continuation of ethnic cleansing the forced registration of local Georgians residing in Abkhazia region as foreigners and restrictions of their fundamental rights, including property rights. The concern was expressed on grave consequences resulting from the prohibition of education in Georgian language in Gali and Akhalgori districts.
 
The Co-Chairs and participants from the US and Georgia focused on the necessity of substantial discussions on one of the core issues of the Geneva International Discussions – the safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees. They stressed that Russia’s political speculation in this regard is unacceptable. However, the representatives of Russia and its occupation regimes still attempted to politicize the humanitarian topics and walked out of the negotiations during the discussion of the issue of IDPs and refugees.

The information session on principles and practices in conflict-related processes was held the day prior to the negotiations.
 
The next round of Geneva International Discussions will be held in October 2018.
 
Geneva International Discussions were launched on the basis of the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement. Discussions are held within the frames of two Working Groups, 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.