HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESS CONFERENCE AT THE END OF THE TWENTY-FIRST ROUND OF THE GENEVA INTERNATIONAL DISCUSSIONS
11 October 2012
The Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions gave a press conference this afternoon at the end of the twenty-first round of the Discussions.
PHILIPPE LEFORT, European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus and for the crisis in Georgia, reading out the press communiqué of the Co-Chairs of the Geneva Discussions, said that participants in Working Group I reviewed the security situation on the ground and welcomed the relative stability maintained since the last round of Geneva Discussions, despite some concerns around military exercises held in the region in September. All participants reiterated the need to resume the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meetings. They welcomed the increased use of the IPRM hotline and respect of other agreed measures.
The participants also discussed the issue of Non-Use of Force and International Security Arrangements, including concrete proposals by participants as well as Co-Chairs' draft joint statement; deliberations will be continued in the next round. As part of discussions on Confidence Building Measures and Best Practices, the issue of freedom of movement was once again revisited. The Co-Chairs welcomed the constructive attitude of all participants, including their commitment to the continuity of common efforts, building on achievements and understanding reached during previous rounds.
In Working Group II, the participants reviewed the humanitarian situation, focusing on the needs and challenges of displaced persons and vulnerable populations. The participants discussed several issues related to the fate of the victims of the conflicts and the provision of assistance to those in need. The participants were informed of the progress of water-related projects implemented by the OSCE and financed by the EU.
In addition, the participants took part in an information session on issues related to the search for missing persons and found the session very useful.
The participants agreed to hold their next session on 12 December 2012.
ANTTI TURUNEN, United Nations Representative to the Geneva International Discussions and the Joint Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism, said today they held a very good and open discussion. This round was an anniversary session, four years after the Geneva process was launched in an effort to stabilize the security situation on the ground.
This round took place after the watershed parliamentary election, which, according to the general assessment of the international community, marked a significant step towards strengthening the democratic reforms in the country. The initial statements of the new leadership sent rather positive signals for commitment to the Geneva process. This and other changes in the region and commitment of all participants gave grounds for certain optimism and opportunities for advancing discussions on the key issues.
As chair of the IPRM he expressed regret that IPRM meetings have not resumed since April this year due to the lack of consensus among the participants on procedural matters. He had continued active engagement consulting closely with all participants in search for the possible ways to overcome this impasse and even though the IPRM still remains suspended, the hotline had been actively used alongside with other measures of information-sharing. He appealed once again to reach an agreement for resume the full functioning of IPRM.
Meanwhile he said he was pleased to note that the security on the ground had been relatively calm, but remained fragile. It was significant to point out that freedom of movement had been mostly respected and the average number of daily crossings in both directions, including pedestrian and vehicle movement, at the Inguri Bridge had slightly increased. Humanitarian access had been unhindered for the international organizations during the reporting period, the basis for the involvement of the United Nations in Geneva in the discussions.
PÁDRAIG MURPHY, Special Representative of the OSCE, Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus, emphasized the need to maintain stability and the political commitment, saying in the last four years progress had been seen, notably with stabilizing the security situation in the region. Some credit for this must be given to the Ergneti/Dvani Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism, which had been meeting regularly to address problems on the ground.
However, many challenges remained, and the Geneva Discussions were an essential means for resolving these issues. He hoped that all participants were to maintain their commitment to this process, and would work together constructively to build confidence. Drawing on Ireland’s experience, he emphasized the importance of addressing issues related to cultural heritage and identity. He added that it was essential in the overall context of security and stability to acknowledge and to address the suffering of families of the missing persons. In Ireland these people were called the disappeared, he explained. Although it was painful, it was a necessary, and in fact crucial, element of reconciliation, alongside political, security and policing issues.
Answering a question on the details of the challenges that remained he said that the Non-Use of Force was important moving forward, as was the issue of missing persons, freedom of movement, and displaced persons.
For use of the information media; not an official record