In her address to the OSCE ministerial council in Kiev on December 6, Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, has called for “intensified diplomatic efforts to persuade” Russia to reciprocate Georgia’s unilateral non-use of force pledge.
Georgia made unilateral non-use of force pledge in November, 2010 and since then has been calling on Russia to reciprocate, but the latter refuses saying that it is not a party in the conflict between Tbilisi and two breakaway regions, which Russia recognized after the August 2008 war. The issue of non-use of force pledge is one of the stumbling blocks at the Geneva talks, launched after the 2008 war.
The Georgian Foreign Minister said that since October 2012, Georgia undertook a number of “constructive initiatives with the aim at de-escalating and normalizing relations” with Russia, resulting in reopening of the Russian market for the Georgian products.
“Yet, unfortunately, against the background of the restored economic and cultural relations, Russia has further intensified its illegal activities. As we speak, Moscow continues to impose barbwires, fences and other artificial obstacles along the occupation line in the Tskhinvali and Abkhazia regions of Georgia, dividing peoples, families and communities,” Panjikidze said.
She said that the international community’s support “is decisive to prevent further provocations and destabilizing measures and to stop the process of the installations of the barbwire fences along the occupation line.”
Panjikidze said that Georgia is not going “to deviate from our determination to seek the resolution of the conflict exclusively through peaceful means.”
Asked about Georgia, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists on the sideline of the OSCE ministerial council in Kiev on December 5: “If we continue working pragmatically, I do not see any obstacle to develop relations in economy, trade, energy and humanitarian sectors, culture. But if we want to fully normalize relations, I cannot offer anything new except of the need to recognize realities, which exist in this region.”
“Recognition of realities” implies, according to Russia, “independence” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on December 6 that it was not possible to adopt at the OSCE ministerial council a statement on conflicts in Georgia “because of Russia’s unconstructive position.” The Georgian Foreign Ministry also said that it was neither possible to agree on the joint ministerial council declaration because of “Russia’s opposition towards reference to conflicts in the OSCE area.”
In her address to the OSCE ministerial council, Foreign Minister Panjikidze has called for redoubling “attempts to work towards the restoration of a full-fledged and comprehensive OSCE presence” in Georgia “equipped with the peacekeeping and police mandates within the occupied regions.” OSCE, which takes decisions based on consensus of all its participating states, closed down its mission in Georgia in June, 2009 after a failure to agree on mandate extension following the August, 2008 war.