MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) and of parliamentary minority group, called on the authorities to consider if not a withdrawal, at least “temporary suspension” of Georgia’s participation in the Geneva talks.
After the sixteenth round of Geneva talks on June 7, the Georgian negotiators said that Tbilisi would cease its participation in the talks if Russia continued plotting terrorist attempts on the Georgian territory. Next round of the Geneva talks are scheduled for October 4.
Speaking at the parliamentary session on June 21, the CDM leader said that a reported intention by Russia to increase its military presence in Abkhazia, as well as frequent cases of detentions of Georgian citizens in the areas adjacent to the administrative boundary lines of the breakaway regions made it “unreasonable” for the Georgian side to participate in the Geneva talks.
“It would not be inappropriate to consider – some may think it’s a very strict proposal – if not a withdrawal, at least temporary suspension of our participation in the Geneva talks,” MP Giorgi Targamadze said.
“When we hear a statement that Russia decided to increase number of its troops in Abkhazia… and when incidents in the conflict areas are becoming frequent and there is no international organization capable of preventing such cases, I deem it incomprehensible and unreasonable to participate in the process, which is only called by name as ‘negotiations’; we have failed to achieve security for our citizens in those territories and failed to achieve at least partial implementation of commitments by Russia,” he said.
In reported intention of Russia to increase its military presence in Abkhazia, MP Giorgi Targamadze was referring to a report by the Russian news website Lifenews.ru, which quoted unnamed Russian Defense Ministry official saying that Moscow would increase number of its troops in Abkhazia from 2013 in order to boost security ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
MP Giorgi Targamadze called on the Foreign Ministry to verify this report and in case of confirmation to take “decisive and strict measures.”
Georgian Parliament Chairman, Davit Bakradze, said that it was “a serious issue” which should be closely watched by Tbilisi and in case of confirmation “we should think what our response should be.”
Bakradze, however, also said: “At this stage let’s not go into details whether this [response] can be related to the Geneva talks or not. Anyway, I agree that this is something which we should be watching closely.”
An opposition lawmaker, Jondi Bagaturia, called on the parliamentary minority to refrain from calling for withdrawal or suspension of Georgia’s participation in the Geneva talks.
“Do not encourage [Georgian authorities] to undertake provocative steps. Withdrawal from the Geneva talks is a radical step… and it is only in the interests of Russia to show the world that Georgia is out of negotiating process. Any sharp step would hit our country’s interest,” MP Bagaturia said.
According to the report on Lifenews.ru Russian website the agreement to increase military presence in Abkhazia was made at a meeting between Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Defense Minister of the breakaway region Merab Kishmaria in Moscow on June 15. The Russian MoD said in a brief statement after the meeting that further military cooperation was discussed at the meeting.
In August, 2009 Russia announced about reduction of its military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia to 1,700 in each of the region.
Brussels-based think tank, International Crisis Group (ICG), said in its report about Abkhazia, released in February 2010, that although Russian officials were giving various figures – ranging from 1,700 to 3,700 – for their troop numbers in Abkhazia, western military analysts with access to satellite imagery, were estimating number of Russian troops in Abkhazia from 4,000 to 5,000, including coast guard units, border guard forces of Federal Security Service (FSB) and regular troops.