Foreign minister of breakaway Abkhazia, Vyacheslav Chirikba, said on September 17, that existing format of the Geneva talks, launched after the August 2008 war, was lacking effective decision-making process and should be changed.
“The Geneva process is in crisis. We have a difficult situation over number of parameters. Let’s not make any conclusions yet, but we need to talk seriously in order to understand whether we are going in the right direction or not and whether we need any changes in the format or not,” Apsnipress reported, quoting Chirikba as saying in his opening remarks while meeting in Sokhumi co-chairs of Geneva talks.
He added that the Abkhaz side “has a good will to discuss all the problems constructively”.
“We are not satisfied with the format of [Geneva] meetings; it has to be changed, because it limits our decisions. We cannot decide anything in this vicious format,” Chirikba said.
Details of what specifically Sokhumi wants to change in the format were not reported. Geneva talks, launched after the August 2008 war, are held in the format of two working groups with the first one discussing security-related issues and the second one – humanitarian issues. Talks, co-chaired by EU, UN and OSCE representatives, involve negotiators, or as they are formally called “participants”, from Georgia, Russia and the United States, as well as from Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. The next, twenty first round of Geneva talks are planned in October.
Chirikba reiterated Sokhumi’s position that it would not participate in Gali meetings of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) in presence of head of EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM).
IPRM, a framework established within the Geneva talks, served as a venue for regular meetings between the Georgian and Abkhaz officials, as well as representatives of the Russian forces in presence of EUMM and UN representatives. A similar mechanism operates on the South Ossetian direction with participation of OSCE representative.
IPRM on the Abkhaz direction, which was usually held in Gali once in a month, has not been held after Sokhumi denounced in April head of EUMM, Andrzej Tyszkiewicz, as “undesirable person on the Abkhaz territory”; Sokhumi accused Tyszkiewicz of "disrespect" towards the Abkhaz side by demanding in an "insulting" tone to allow EUMM into Abkhazia. Sokhumi says it will only resume its participation in Gali IPRM meetings if EUMM is represented at the meeting by representatives other than its head.
“We are ready to participate in [Gali IPRM] meetings as soon as our demand is met,” Chirikba said. “But, unfortunately, mandate of [retired lieutenant] general Tyszkiewicz has been extended and it means that there will be no meetings in frames of IPRM in the nearest future.”
He also voiced criticism over a non-binding resolution on internally displaced persons, passed in July by the UN General Assembly. Georgia is pushing this resolution annually on the General Assembly in an attempt to keep the issue high on the international agenda and also to widen circle of support towards the resolution from year to year.
Echoing Moscow’s position on this resolution, Chirikba said that pushing of such document at the UN General Assembly, bypassing Geneva talks, which also addresses the issue of internally displaced persons, amounted to an attempt to undermine the Geneva talks.
“We will have a very tough position on this regard during the upcoming Geneva talks. So I think it won’t be an easy round [of talks]. We should put things in order, because there is no sense to indefinitely tread water,” Chirikba said.