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Tbilisi 'Disappointed' with 14th Round of Geneva Talks
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 17 Dec.'10 / 13:31

Tbilisi is "disappointed" with the fourteenth round of Geneva talks, as well as with lack of "firm and clear-cut" position of co-chairs of the talks, Giga Bokeria, Georgian chief negotiator said after the talks on December 16.

Georgia insists on Russia to make non-use of force pledge, after the similar unilateral declaration was made by President Saakashvili on November 23. But Russia insists that it is not a party into the conflict, saying that Tbilisi on the one hand and Tskhinvali and Sokhumi on the other are parties into the conflict. Russia, which tries to position itself as "a mediator", welcomed non-use of force pledges made by Sokhumi and Tskhinvali just ahead of the fourteenth round of Geneva talks.

"We've heard such a cynical statements [from Russian negotiators] like as if there is no conflict between Russia and Georgia whatsoever," Giga Bokeria, secretary of the Georgian National Security Council, told RFE/RL Georgian service after the talks.

"We said that when we hear statements of this kind from the Russian Federation it is a matter of concern for everyone and reaction to this kind of statements should be firmer and more clear-cut, but unfortunately, we think, that there was no such reaction."

"I think that the position of the co-chairs should be firmer and more clear-cut and we have not hidden our disappointment about it," Bokeria added.

Geneva discussions, launched two months after the August, 2008 war, involve negotiators from Tbilisi, Moscow, Sokhumi, Tskhinvali, as well as from Washington. Discussions are co-chaired by representatives from EU, OSCE and UN.

"Our firm position is that we are interested in continuation of the Geneva talks, but there should be substantive discussions on those fundamental issues, which pose threat to the security and which cause violation of human rights. We hope that co-chairs will have firmer and more clear-cut position in following rounds, because this is important for moving forward step-by-step. In the past we had this kind of results and we appreciate it, but unfortunately there was no such development at this recent round and that's the problem," Bokeria said.

In a written joint statement released after the talks, co-chairs said that all participants "agreed that unilateral commitments to the non-use of force as a legal obligation under international law play an important role in advancing the process."

"The co-Chairs believe that today’s discussions, in light of recent and relevant developments, contributed to work in this regard and can provide an impetus for further steps in the Geneva process."

Antti Turunen, UN Secretary General's special representative for Georgia, said after the meeting, that the various aspects of non-use of force and international security arrangements were discussed and the participants would continue working on the matter as many issues remained to be clarified.

U.S. Position

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Philip Gordon, represented the United States at the talks.

He said after the talks, that President Saakashvili's unilateral declaration on non-use of force would help the parties to focus on concrete issues on the ground and urged Russia to make a similar pledge renouncing force.

"Not only Georgia, but even the authorities in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali made a pledge of no use of force and it would be helpful if Russia would do the same," Gordon said.

"We made clear that we believe that Russia should make such a statement... They have chosen so far not to do so, but we hope they will recognize that this would be a constructive thing to do," he added.

He said that disagreements over non-use of force pledge was one of the reasons why there had been "limited" progress in previous rounds of talks. He said that Moscow, as well as Tskhinvali and Sokhumi, were pushing for a legally binding agreement on non-use of force.

"Later the Russians started pushing the idea of at least getting Georgia to unilaterally declare it in a legally binding way. That, for many of the sessions was the dominant discussion, and it stood in the way of progress in other areas. That’s why we were so welcoming of President Saakashvili’s statement last month, because it allowed, it should allow us to move beyond that debate. What the Russians and others have been asking of the Georgians for some time now, they have done and taken that issue off the table," Gordon said.

Participants agreed to hold next, fifteenth round of talks on March 4. 

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