A meeting between negotiators at the Geneva talks started on Wednesday and they are meeting each other in an individual capacity without identifying the entities they are representing and without holding an official plenary session.
Grigory Karasin, the Russian deputy foreign minister, accompanied by representatives from breakaway South Ossetia; as well as Giga Bokeria, the Georgian deputy foreign minister, accompanied by heads of Tbilisi-backed Abkhaz government-in-exile and South Ossetian provisional administration, were seen entering the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva.
Maxim Gvinjia, the deputy foreign minister of breakaway Abkhazia, told reporters just before entering the UN headquarters that these were not talks, but these were “discussions” and he was ready for “constructive discussions” within the informal working groups – one dealing with security issues and another one with displaced persons.
“Yesterday we had a dinner and we all [negotiators from all sides] met there; we talked about weather,” Gvinjia said.
“I expect a result in many, many years forward if we start today constructively,” he said. “It's a long process. We have to start one day.”
He also stressed that there were eight participants of the meeting – representatives from Georgia, Russia, the United States (represented by Daniel Fried, the assistant secretary of state); as well as from Abkhazia and South Ossetia and three co-organizers of the meeting – EU, UN and OSCE.
Giga Bokeria, the Georgian deputy foreign minister, told the RFE/RL Georgian service on November 18 that representatives of the Tbilisi-backed Abkhaz government-in-exile and provisional South Ossetian administration would also be present at the meeting of informal working groups.
EU, which is a co-organizer of the talks, has decided this time to go for an “informal approach so as not to offend any sensibilities,” a European diplomatic source told AFP.