The Abkhaz negotiators’ status at the Geneva talks remains unresolved; hence Sokhumi’s participation in the meeting planned for November 18 is not yet decided, Sergey Shamba, the breakaway region’s foreign minister, said.
Pierre Morel, EU’s special representative for Georgia crisis, was in Sokhumi on November 10, as part of his efforts to negotiate between the sides format of the Geneva meeting. He has already visited Moscow and Tbilisi last month.
“The previous meeting in Geneva on October 15 ended with our disagreement towards the format of the talks and within a month we should have agreed terms of our participation in this process,” Apsnipress news agency reported quoting Shamba as saying after meeting with the EU envoy. “There is some progress, but not significant enough to satisfy our demands; hence the issue of our participation in the Geneva meeting still remains open.”
Meanwhile, Sergey Bagapsh, the Abkhaz leader, said the Geneva talks would be fruitless without the Abkhaz and South Ossetian sides’ participation. “The Abkhaz side will participate in the Geneva process only on condition of equal rights,” he added.
Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, also said on November 9 that representatives from South Ossetian and Abkhazia should participate in the Geneva talks as equals with all the rest.
Tbilisi, however, claims that only the Georgian, Russian and U.S. representatives should participate in the official part of talks, while the separatists can participate in informal meetings of working groups over security and return of internally displaced persons. Tbilisi also insists on participation of its loyal Abkhaz and South Ossetian representatives in the talks, which is unacceptable for Tskhinvali and Sokhumi.