Russia Walks Out of Geneva Talks
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 May.'09 / 22:28

Russia has decided “to take a pause” and to suspend participation in the fifth round of Geneva talks till Tuesday pending clarification of the Abkhaz position over taking part in the meeting, RIA Novosti news agency reported quoting, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said.

Fifth round of talks opened in Geneva on May 18 with participation of the Georgian, Russian and U.S. negotiators, as well as with participation of representatives of breakaway South Ossetia. The Abkhaz side has refused to take part in the talks, co-mediated by UN, OSCE and EU.

The Abkhaz side cited absence of UN Secretary General’s report on situation in Abkhazia, which was originally expected to be released by May 15.

Sergey Shamba, the foreign minister of the breakaway region, said last week that Sokhumi wanted to see the report before the launch of the fifth round of talks as the wording of the document would have determined the Abkhaz side position over its participation in the Geneva discussions. Sokhumi protested against wording “Abkhazia, Georgia”, which was used in recent report by UN Secretary General released in February. Sokhumi says that UN can no longer use the wording after two of its member states – Russia and Nicaragua – recognized Abkhazia’s independence.

“We have offered - and the South Ossetian delegation has supported such approach – to take a pause till tomorrow, considering that the UN Secretary General’s report will become available overnight, as promised by our UN colleagues,” RIA Novosti news agency reported quoting Sergey Lavrov.

In a joint statement released after the Russian delegation walked out of the meeting, co-mediators UN, OSCE and EU said: “The co-chairs are working for the resumption of the discussions tomorrow morning, 19 May, as planned and call upon all participants to be present.”

“The Co-Chairs strongly regret the walk-out by the Russian participants at the beginning of the fifth session of the Geneva Discussions today, after the Abkhaz participants decided not to attend and after the walk-out of the South Ossetian participants,” the statement reads.

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