Georgian and Abkhaz delegations encouraged by talks in UNOMIC Tbilisi Office

On 4 August 2005, in UNOMIG Headquarters in Tbilisi, under the Chairmanship of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the UN on Georgia, Ms. Heidi Tagliavini, and with the participation of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General, the forth meeting of the Georgian and Abkhaz sides on the issue of security guarantees took place.

The event was convened in accordance with the recommendations of the Geneva meetings of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General and in line with the agreements reached at previous meetings.

The Georgian side was represented by a delegation led by Mr. Georgi Khaindrava. The Abkhaz side was represented by a delegation led by Mr. Sergei Shamba.

At this meeting the Group of Friends was represented by: Mr. Uwe Schramm, German Ambassador to Georgia, also in his capacity of coordinator of the Group; Mr. Richard Miles, US Ambassador to Georgia; Mr. Vladimir Chkhikvishvili, Russian Ambassador to Georgia; Mr. Donald McLaren, British Ambassador to Georgia; and by Mr. Philippe Lefort, French Ambassador to Georgia. Ambassador Roy Reeve, Head of the OSCE Mission to Georgia also attended the meeting.

Before the meeting Giorgi Khaindrava and Sergei Shamba made statements for the media.

In his opening statement, Mr. Giorgi Khaindrava emphasized the importance of dynamics observed in the relationship between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides. He said that security and confidence issues, which are to be discussed today, are the most important ones since without confidence no arguable issues can be resolved. He noted a positive advancement observed during the past months regarding the railway link resumption. Mr. Khandrava expressed the hope that the sides will find a compromise and a means for settling security issues that are beneficial for both sides.

"I hope that today's meeting will be productive for us all and will give us a chance to further that relationship which has been observed and formed during the past time," Khaindrava concluded.

Mr. Sergei Shamba described the fact that the process of negotiations has, after a long break, started developing as "positive." He stated that despite some problems, certain "invisible" activity has been carried out continuously and the Abkhaz side received from the Georgian side some projects which it had been working on since 1997.

"We received the last project from the Georgian side just recently, we have made our changes to it, and we will today go on working on it. Eventually, not today of course, we will advance on security issues as well as we do on the issues regarding the railway resumption and refugee return," Sergei Shamba said.

The participants of the meeting continued their discussions on the issue of guarantees, including their international dimension, and on mechanisms for their implementation in the context of the Yalta Declaration on the basis of their respective proposals and in light of subsequent developments.

The Georgian and Abkhaz sides reiterated their commitment to the non-resumption of hostilities and the settlement of the conflict exclusively by peaceful means. They deemed that in light of the political changes in Tbilisi and Sukhumi in 2004 and 2005 it will be important to confirm at high-level their renewed commitments relating to non-resumption of hostilities and safe and dignified return of refugees and IDPs, in the first instance to the Gali district in its old borders. They exchanged views on the ways for addressing the issue on the basis of a draft text, which had been prepared by the Georgian side and enhanced by the proposals of the Abkhaz side. The sides agreed to continue work in this direction and to exchange proposals on a joint document by this coming September, making use of the good offices of the SRSG. The Group of Friends welcomed these intentions of the sides and reiterated its readiness to render further support, as appropriate.

The sides addressed topical maritime issues. Notwithstanding their differences on the matter, they confirmed their commitment to the Moscow ceasefire agreement of 1994 and agreed to avoid the threat or use force against each other and seek solution to these problems through negotiations, involving international expertise, as required.

They will be guided by this understanding in their further discussions on security guarantees. The sides agreed to continue the discussion on the matter in this format. They would discuss the proposals of both sides on maritime issues at the expert's level and in the framework of a working group in this format and submit their views to the SRSG by this coming September.

The SRSG/UNOMIG and the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General reiterated their readiness to support the efforts of the sides towards achieving and implementing concrete agreements between them.

The participants of the meeting agreed that the next meeting on security guarantees would take place in Sukhumi in the first half of September 2005.

In the margins of the meeting, the sides addressed and confirmed their readiness to accept the documents prepared by UNHCR relating to the verification of data of registration in the Gali district and the strategy paper, which were submitted during the 16 June 2005 meeting in Moscow.