Negotiators from Tbilisi, Moscow, Washington, as well as representatives from Tskhinvali and Sokhumi held the twenty second round of Geneva talks on December 12, which was the first one since new government took office in Georgia in late October.
It was the first round for the new team of Georgian negotiators, led by deputy foreign minister Nikoloz Vashakidze. The latter was the deputy foreign minister under the previous administration as well, but was not previously engaged in the Geneva talks.
Geneva talks, launched after the August 2008 war and co-chaired by representatives from the EU, UN and OSCE, are held in two working groups with one addressing security issues and another one humanitarian issues.
Speaking at a news conference after the talks, the Georgian deputy foreign minister noted "some progress" in the first working group as the participants continued working on the draft of joint statement on non-use of force, which was tabled by the co-chairs during the previous rounds of negotiations. Vashakidze said that although much work was ahead, the fact that the participants started working on text of the draft of joint statement was in itself a positive development.
But in the second working group, which addresses humanitarian issues, Vashakidze said, participants from Sokhumi, Tskhinvali and Moscow did not show constructive approach and "walked away from discussions".
"We are deeply disappointed, that our counterparts did not approach this meeting in good faith," Georgian deputy foreign minister Vashakidze said.
He said that the Georgian negotiators came to Geneva with "number of very concrete and practical proposals", among them on issues related to gas supply in Akhalgori district in breakaway South Ossetia.
Georgian deputy state minister for reintegration, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, said that instead of focusing on these concrete issues, there were attempts to focus more on "futile discussions" on change of the format of Geneva talks.
One of the co-chairs of the Geneva talks, UN representative Antti Turunen said that despite of differences on certain issues, this round had demonstrated that all the participants were committed to the process and were ready to continue discussions.
He also said that the overall situation on the ground remained relatively calm and stable; he attributed that to the achievements of the respective law enforcement agencies and expressed hope that the current trend would continue. The UN representative said that all efforts should now be taken in order to resume the work of the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM). IPRM on the Abkhaz direction has not been held since March after Sokhumi denounced head of EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) Andrzej Tyszkiewicz as “undesirable person on the Abkhaz territory”.
The next, twenty third round of Geneva talks is scheduled for March 26-27, 2013.