Abkhazia: Geneva Talks Prompt Cautious Note of Optimism
The most recent round of negotiations between Georgia and Abkhazia concluded on February 3 in Geneva where a two-day series of meetings was held under the aegis of the United Nations.
The Georgian side was represented by the State Minister for Conflict Resolution Goga Khaindrava while the de facto Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Shamba represented the Abkhaz side. The meeting was chaired by the United Nations Under Secretary-General for peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guéhenno.
This weekend's Geneva conference was also attended by senior representatives of the UN Secretary General's Group of Friends of Georgia - Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States.
In a press release on Saturday, UNOMIG reported the Group of Friends had "underscored the urgent need for tangible results in the peace process and agreed that, in addition to continuing work on confidence-building measures, including the finalization of the package of documents on non-use of force and the return of internally displaced persons and refugees, there was a need to address the core political issues of the conflict."
Khaindrava returned from the Geneva meeting on February 5 and expressed satisfaction with the talks. Referring to the Georgian Parliament's move to push Russian peacekeepers out of Georgia, Khaindrava noted that peacekeepers in South Ossetia have "missed practically all their chances" to show improved performance.
"But as for the peacekeeping operation in Abkhazia, you know that according to the parliamentary decision they have until summer to turn things around and the international community recommends that the mandate of the Russian peacekeepers be fulfilled," Khaindrava said.
At the Geneva negotiations U.S. deputy Secretary of State Matthew Bryza fixed the official position of Washington toward the talks and reportedly promised to support Georgia in both the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali conflict regulation issues.
Khaindrava says the Abkhzian side plans to work with the Georgian side on the issue of IDP security.