Sep 20, 2012

Abkhazia: Geneva Talks Struggling

Abkhazia showed its discontent about the current status and format of the Geneva Talks, saying it limits Abkhazia’s decision-making capacity.

Below is an article published by The Messenger Online:

The Geneva Talks, launched after the war in 2008, are held in the format of two working groups and are co-chaired by the EU, and UN and OSCE representatives. Talks of course involve “participants”, from Georgia, Russia and the United States, as well as from Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. However, this type of negotiation between parties may lack effectiveness. Tbilisi has also been dissatisfied with the talks previously. 20 rounds have been held thus far and the 21st round planned to be held on October 10-11th, is under question.

Meetings between the co-Chairs of the talks, Antti Turunen (UN) and Philippe Leforte (EU) and Vyacheslav Chirikba, Abkhazia's de-facto Foreign Minister, were held in Sokhumi, on September 17th [2012]. The main topic of the discussion was the future of the Geneva Talks, which as all parties agree– involve some difficulties.

Leforte commented, that in order to avoid a crisis in the talks, now it is vital to negotiate and stay open to compromise. He also stressed that the Geneva Talks are just a part of a large diplomatic process serving for future reconstruction of the situation.

Chirikba never tried to hide his total dissatisfaction with the Geneva Talks. “The Geneva process is in a crisis. We have a difficult situation over a number of parameters. Let’s not draw any conclusions yet, but we need to talk seriously in order to understand whether we are going in the right direction or not and whether we need any changes in the format or not... “We are not satisfied with the format of the [Geneva] meetings; it has to be changed, because it limits our decisions. We cannot decide anything in this vicious format,” Apsnipress reported, quoting Chirikba.

Chikirba never stated in details of what particular changes he wants to achieve in the talks. However, he reiterates that the current format is not effective. The Gali meetings of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM), which was supposed to be one of the achievements within the framework of the Geneva Talks and aims to address security issues in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, has been suspended for several months now. 

Civil.GE reports that Chikirba confirmed that the Abkhazian side will not be attending the following IPRM meeting, as the meeting is planned to be held in the presence of Andrzej Tyszkiewicz, head of EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM). Tyszkiewicz has been accused in "disrespect." According to the Abkhazian side, his tone demanding to allow the EUMM into Abkhazia was nothing but "insulting" and he is not "welcomed" in Abkhazian territory. In an interview with journalists, Chikirba also commented on a non-binding resolution on IDPs, passed in July [2012] by the UN General Assembly. “We will have a very tough position in this regard during the upcoming Geneva Talks. It won’t be an easy round [of talks]" he says. 

Leforte is still confident that talks are an essential part of the current conflict settlement and they need to be continued. According to him, the format will not be changed for the 21st round and again two working groups will be presented addressing security-related and humanitarian issues. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia has not made any official statements regarding the position of the Abkhazian side on Geneva Talks.