Twenty first round of Geneva talks, launched after the August 2008 war, was held on October 11.
This recent round of negotiations was held amid ongoing government handover process in Georgia following Georgian Dream coalition’s victory in the October 1 parliamentary elections.
The process has also been reflected on the composition of the Georgian delegation in the Geneva talks; the delegation included two representatives from the Georgian Dream – Paata Zakareishvili, incoming state minister for reintegration and an elected MP Giorgi Volski, who was deputy state minister for conflict resolution issues in 2004-2007.
The Georgian Dream coalition said in a statement on October 8 that it was “fully supportive” to Geneva talks, co-chaired by UN, EU and OSCE, and expressed readiness to work “constructively” with the participants of the talks.
Outgoing deputy foreign minister and Georgian chief negotiator in Geneva talks, Sergi Kapanadze, said at a news conference on October 11, that presence of representatives of the incoming government in the Georgian delegation was “a demonstration from our side of the continuity of the process and of the commitment of Georgia to the Geneva international discussions.”
Co-chair of the Geneva talks from the UN, Antti Turunen, said at a news conference after the talks, that incoming Georgian government sent rather positive signals for commitment to the Geneva process.
“There is a certain optimism based on the initial statements of the new forthcoming leadership concerning their continuous commitment to Geneva process; so this gives us certain optimism and possibly creates certain opportunities in advancing our discussions on key issues,” Turunen said.
As far as substance of recent round of talks is concerned, the Georgian chief negotiator welcomed launch of a work on a document “which is about obligation not to use force.”
Co-chairs of the talks, representatives of EU, OSCE and UN, said in their joint statement after the talks that the participants discussed the issue of Non-Use of Force and International Security Arrangements, “including concrete proposals by participants as well as Co-Chairs' draft joint statement”.
Georgia made unilateral non-use of pledge in late in late 2010 and since then Tbilisi, as well as the EU, had been calling on Russia to reciprocate with a similar pledge.
“We are quite satisfied that after many rounds of endless deliberations we have today started a work on a document… which is about obligation not to use force. We think this is a right step, a significant step towards the right direction, which will end this debate on non-use of force,” Kapanadze said. “So the process now has been launched; the work on the document has started and we are hopeful that this will… close this chapter on non-use of force negotiations.”
But in a statement released on October 12, the Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated Moscow’s position on the issue, saying that during the recent round of Geneva talks it had been noted that signing of bilateral, legally binding agreement between Sokhumi and Tbilisi, as well as between Tskhinvali and Tbilisi “remains of key importance.” The Georgian authorities have been strongly against of such agreements with Tskhinvali and Sokhumi.
The Georgian chief negotiator said that there had been no progress on discussions of return of internally displaced persons, which is addressed at the Geneva talks in frames of the second working group. Geneva talks are held in two working groups with one addressing security issues and another one humanitarian issues.
The next round of Geneva talks is scheduled for December 12.