Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions address the OSCE Permanent Council

VIENNA, 2 November 2017 – In their addresses to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, the co-chairs of the Geneva International Discussions (GID) expressed satisfaction with the level of engagement by participants in the Discussions. At the same time, they stressed the need to make progress on the issue of the non-use of force and others on the agenda.

The Geneva Discussions address the consequences of the 2008 conflict in Georgia and bring together participants from Tbilisi, Moscow, Washington, Tskhinvali and Sukhumi.

The co-chairs, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Guenther Baechler, UN Representative Antti Turunen and EU Special Representative-designate Toivo Klaar, emphasized that the GID and the related Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs) in Ergneti and Gali are vital platforms for dialogue and prevention of incidents.

Ambassador Guenther Baechler, Special Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus, stressed the importance of the IPRMs and their associated hotlines that allow communication among security stakeholders with a view to preventing or defusing any increase of tension. “They are important to increase confidence and predictability, and to address humanitarian issues of relevance to the conflict-affected populations,” he said.

Referring to the situation on the ground as relatively calm, he noted that “military activities on both sides of the administrative boundary lines have given rise to certain concerns. It is fair to say that the concerns would probably be lessened if we were able to make progress on an issue which has been a key focus of attention in Geneva since the discussions began, that of the non-use of force,” Baechler said.

United Nations Representative to the GID and Co-Chair, Ambassador Antti Turunen, considered that confidence is developing between the participants to tackle concrete issues, like environmental threats in bilateral contacts on the margins of the GID and IPRM meetings. “This is a sign of a new trend of taking ownership of and responsibility for the process”, he noted.

However, he also said that “reaching an agreement on a joint statement on non-use of force and opening discussions on the return of internally displaced persons and refugees have remained elusive”.

EU Special Representative-designate for the South Caucasus Toivo Klaar stressed that the GID and IPRMs are very important tools. “Since all crucial issues are brought up, they create a sense of accountability for the participants”. He said that, apart from security, issues related to fundamental human rights and the humanitarian impact on the populations are now “even higher on the agenda of the GID”.