Geneva Conference : Georgia-Russia Talks Now Focus on Civilian Aspects
Meeting on 19 November in Geneva for a second round of international talks on the post-war re-establishment of security and stability in Georgia, the mediators agreed to focus on issues "directly related to the people," leaving thorny political problems such as the status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia for a later stage. The next round of talks was scheduled for 17-18 December.
"Heavy political questions on which no agreement in the very short term can be reached anyway" were not discussed at the meeting, Johan Verbeke, the UN's chief envoy for Georgia, told reporters at a press conference following the meeting. "We agreed to suspend those questions and in the meantime to address concrete issues which are directly related to the people themselves," he added.
Unlike at the first round of talks back in October, the mediators from the US, Russia, Georgia and its two breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia succeeded this time in holding a joint discussion on two main issues; regional security and stability and the return of displaced people. The four-hour meeting behind closed doors took place at the UN headquarters in Geneva and was co-chaired by the United Nations, the EU and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
In order to avoid any disputes over the format of the talks, the parties agreed this time to participate in discussions on an informal basis. "The three Caucasus countries have had an opportunity to communicate on an even footing," Grigory Karasin, Russia's head of delegation and deputy foreign minister, told journalists, referring to Georgia and its two breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, recognized in September by Moscow as independent states. …