Press release on consultations on security and stability in the South Caucasus
Another round of consultations on security and stability in the South Caucasus took place in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 10−11. The Republic of Abkhazia, Georgia, the Republic of South Ossetia, the Russian Federation, and the United States took part in the consultations co-chaired by the UN, the OSCE, and the EU. The Russian delegation was led by State Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.
Delegations from Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia pointed out that further deepening of Tbilisi's cooperation with NATO is perceived as a real threat to regional security. The NATO exercises held in Georgia during the summer and the autumn involved a record high number of servicemen and heavy equipment. The emissaries of individual NATO states who took part in these exercises stressed the anti-Russian slant of the manoeuvres as well as their significance for Georgia from the point of view of future "de-occupation" of South Ossetia. Such actions by Tbilisi and the Alliance run counter to the goals of the Geneva discussions, devalue the format activities and increase tension in the region. The resolution of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly adopted in Bucharest in the run-up to the round was of an unacceptable and provocative nature.
Russia, Abkhazia together with South Ossetia stated that they continue to consider further discussion of the non-use of force in the South Caucasus, the key goal of the joint work in Geneva. Re-affirming the commitment to this principle is critical in order to ensure lasting security of the two republics, as stated in the Dmitry Medvedev-Nicholas Sarkozy agreements of August 12, 2008. The dogmatic adherence of the Georgian representatives to “international security measures,” which is unacceptable for other participants, thwarted the adoption of the joint statement this time yet again.
Other than Georgia, all the participants in the Geneva discussions, including the EU Monitoring Mission, assessed the situation on the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-South Ossetian border as stable and predictable. The existing checkpoints function properly, and the number of incidents is within the median statistical values. The UNHCHR documents indicate that the now available bus service between the border villages of the Gal district of Abkhazia has significantly improved transport accessibility of the checkpoints near the border with Georgia. Monthly meetings within the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRM) structure, as well as regular contacts of the parties using hotlines contribute greatly to the maintenance of a normal situation on the borders between Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Georgia.
The Abkhazian delegation accentuated the matter of continued artificial isolation of the republic. Georgia and its allies purposefully create obstacles for international communications of the Abkhazian residents by not recognising their national and Russian passports. Legitimate efforts by the country’s authorities to streamline the state border crossing regulations are hypocritically presented as “violation of the freedom of movement.”
Representatives from South Ossetia pointed out the provocative nature of the rallies staged by Georgia and the trips of foreign political figures to the state border line. Such propaganda events are fraught with serious aggravation of the situation, the responsibility for which will lie with Tbilisi.
The participants in the Geneva discussions reaffirmed their willingness to continue searching for solutions concerning humanitarian issues, including the protection of cultural heritage, environmental safety, searching for missing persons, education, and water projects. Representatives from Abkhazia called for a substantive discussion of cross-border matters in the field of agriculture and pointed to the need to take urgent measures to control insects that pose a serious threat to the agrarian sector of the region.
The next meeting in Geneva is scheduled for December 2017.