Negotiators in Geneva discussions concluded twelfth round of talks on July 27 and agreed to hold the next round of talks October 14.
Pierre Morel, EU special representative, who co-chairs Geneva talks along with OSCE and UN envoys, said “considerable gaps in positions” remained on non-use of force treaty – one of the key points of contention between the participants, involving negotiators from Tbilisi, Moscow, Washington, Sokhumi and Tskhinvali.
“Unfortunately, on this issue no consensus is yet possible due to the highly unconstructive position of the Russian Federation and its proxy regimes,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement after the talks.
It also said that unlike Russian negotiators, the Georgian side welcomed co-mediators’ proposal on non-use of force and security arrangements and expressed willingness to continue work on “the sequential approach” on the matter.
The Foreign Ministry said that during the talks, the Georgian side again called for the release of eight Georgians held in Tskhinvali since the August, 2008 war.
It also said that agreement on a document on safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons and other humanitarian issues remained “out of reach” because “Moscow and its clients from Sokhumi and Tskhinvali continued to question the right of the IDPs to return.”
Unlike previous rounds of talks, the recent one was marked with absence of some key figures, including head of the Russian delegation, deputy foreign minister, Grigory Karasin. Deputy head of CIS department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, Aleksey Dviniatin, was instead leading the Russian delegation.
He told the Russian news agencies that absence of Karasin was not “a political signal”. Karasin visited Moldova on July 26-28.
Sokhumi refused to send its head of the delegation and said it was done deliberately to underline its frustration about the lack of progress in talks over the non-use of force treaty. Sokhumi announced last month that it was “temporarily withdrawing” from the Geneva talks, but eventually agreed to send negotiators, but not the head of the delegation saying that its participation in the twelfth round of talks would be “technical presence.”
Philip Gordon, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, was also absent. His deputy Tina Kaidanow was instead leading the U.S. delegation.