Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia regarding the Geneva Talks held on Nov 18-19, 2008

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Tbilisi, 19 November, 2008

Geneva talks resumed on November 18-19, 2008. Deliberations of two working groups, on security and stability issues in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region and return of the IDPs and refugees were held, in which participants took place on an informal basis in individual capacity. Head of the provisional administration of the former South Ossetian Autonomous District Mr. Dimitri Sanakoev and the Chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia Mr. Malkhaz Akishbaia participated in the working groups together with other representatives of the communities of the Tskhinvali Region and Abkhazia. These groups were also attended by the representatives of the proxy regimes. Deliberations, which were moderated by the UN, EU and OSCE, and attended by the representatives from Georgia, United States and the Russian Federation were conducted in a positive working atmosphere.

At both working groups participants from the Government of Georgia, community of the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, Georgia and community of Abkhazia, Georgia raised the issues of Russia's non-compliance with the six-point Cease-fire Agreement, immediate access of international monitors and observers to the occupied regions as a first step towards deoccupation of those regions and creating new international security arrangements in the Tskhinvali Region and Abkhazia.

At the working group on security and stability issues participants from the Government of Georgia, community of the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, Georgia and community of Abkhazia, Georgia stressed the necessity of elaborating new police and peacekeeping mission. Participants expressed their disappointment with the attack on the EUMM observers and continuous attempts to discredit OSCE activities. The moderators particularly emphasized the urgent need for the access of EU and OSCE monitors into the occupied territories, as well as the necessity to extend the mandates of the OSCE Mission to Georgia and UNOMIG. Participants noted that it is essential to fulfil all the provisions of the August 12 six-point Cease-fire Agreement and to have the full withdrawal of the Russian troops from the occupied territories of Georgia. Participants noted extreme urgency of withdrawal of the Russian troops from the Akhalgori region and Upper Abkhazia, as well as the Perevi village.

Participants from the Government of Georgia, community of the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, Georgia and community of Abkhazia, Georgia brought to the attention of the working group on security and stability issues frequent facts of lootings and kidnappings, as well as the attacks on Georgian law enforcers and civilians, as a result of which 10 persons have been killed over the last two months. All participants agreed that the security situation on the ground remains highly volatile and should constitute the focus of the future discussions in Geneva. Participants agreed in principle to elaborate a day-to-day incident prevention and management mechanism, to reflect upon a cease-fire/peacekeeping regime setting forth the rules for the minimal security framework along the administrative border and to establish crossing points in order to ensure that the local population's movement is unhindered.

At the working group on the internally displaced persons and refugees there was a general consensus that the internationally recognized right of the IDPs to safe and dignified return to their places of residence shall be observed. Georgian participants emphasized that the access of international monitors to the occupied regions, deoccupation of these regions and elaboration of the new police and peacekeeping mechanisms are essential steps towards elaborating secure environment, permissive to the safe and dignified return of the IDPs. It was also stressed that the Georgian villages, destroyed and looted after the August war, had to be restored and rehabilitated, inter alia, with the help of international community. In this regard it was agreed to structure the deliberations around certain priority areas.

Co-moderators of the working group on IDPs (UNHCR, European Commission) informed the participants that they are planning to visit Tbilisi, Tskhinvali and Sokhumi in the nearest future to conduct an assessment of the existing situation. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia hopes that international moderators will not have such artificial obstacles regarding the access to the occupied regions, as other humanitarian organizations are having currently.

During the aforesaid working group meeting, particular emphasis was made on the immediate, full and unhidered access for all humanitarian agencies to the population in need. International community's strong belief that all humanitarian organisations shall have access to all relevant affected areas from the legal entry points appeared to be obvious.

Geneva discussions demonstrated that the format had been well prepared and functioning. Georgian side expresses its hope that the participants will continue to be engaged in future discussions in good faith, in order to contribute to establishment of the security environment in the Tskhinvali Region and Abkhazia, and ensure that the IDPs return in a safe and dignified manner to their places of residence.

Georgian side is looking forward to the concrete proposals from the co-moderators based on the first day of work in the working groups and to the continuation of the talks on December 17-18 in the plenary and working groups alike. We stand ready to cooperate intensively with the co-moderators and the participants of the working groups in order to move forward the peace process.