Signing of treaty on alliance and integration by Russia with Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia, planned for March 18, “will be yet another step that goes against ongoing efforts to strengthen security and stability in the region,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement on March 17.
“Furthermore, the signature of this document on the very day of the 31st round of Geneva International Discussions creates circumstances that do not foster a constructive climate for efforts to improve the security and humanitarian situation on the ground,” reads the statement.
“Like previous agreements signed between the Russian Federation and the two Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, this ‘treaty’ – which includes references to a transfer of powers in some areas – clearly violates Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, principles of international law and the international commitments taken by the Russian Federation, including the 12 August 2008 Agreement and its Implementing Measures of 8 September 2008 and has no legal standing,” the EU foreign policy chief said.
The U.S. Department of State also released a statement on March 17 saying that it does not recognize the legitimacy of the planned treaty between Moscow and Tskhinvali and expressed concern over timing of the signing.
Negotiators from Georgia, Russia, the United States, as well as from Sokhumi and Tskhinvali will meet on March 18 for the thirty first round of the Geneva talks, which were launched after the August 2008 war.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry said that timing of the signing of the treaty between Moscow and Tskhinvali, which Tbilisi condemns as part of creeping annexation of its occupied territories, coinciding with the next round of Geneva talks was an attempt by Russia to undermine this negotiating format and also represented a “deliberate insult” of co-chairs of these talks. Georgian chief negotiator, deputy foreign minister, Davit Dondua, however, also said that despite of this provocative act, the Georgian delegation was ready to engage constructively in the next round of talks.
Talks are co-chaired by representatives of the EU, UN and OSCE.
On March 17 they held regular bilateral consultations with the participants of talks in Geneva.
“These consultations showed divergent views on the prevailing situation, including on the planned signing of an agreement between Moscow and Tskhinvali coinciding with this 31st round of the GID [Geneva International Discussions],” the co-chairs said in their joint statement released late on March 17.
“The Co-Chairs appeal to all participants to join the discussions tomorrow in a constructive spirit,” the co-chairs said, who usually do not release statements just ahead of the talks.
In her statement the EU foreign policy chief called on the participants to the Geneva talks “to continue addressing any new developments which have implications for the security and stability on the ground.”