26 March 2014
The Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions gave a press conference this afternoon at the end of the twenty-seventh round of the Discussions.
LUIS FELIPE FERNANDEZ DE LA PEÑA, Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia at the European External Action Service of the European Union, said that Geneva International Discussions had just completed their twenty-seventh round and read out the joint press communiqué by the co-Chairs.
Mr. Fernandez de la Peña announced that in Working Group I, the participants had started their discussions with a review of the security situation on the ground. The co-Chairs appreciated the prevailing relative calm and stable situation since the previous round in December 2013. They had, nonetheless, noted with concern the resumption of installation of fences and other obstacles along the Administrative Boundary line, as well as alleged airspace violations. In that regard, the Co-Chairs called on all participants to address those development within the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM).
The Co-Chairs had reiterated the need to resume the Gali IPRM meetings and welcomed the constructive work done within the Ergneti IPRM. Participants had reconvened an expert drafting session on the joint statement on non-use of force, in which certain progress had been registered. The participants had agreed to continue working on the draft statement at the next round.
In Working Group II, the participants had reviewed the humanitarian situation on the ground. They had once again expressed their concern about the humanitarian consequences of the developments that continued to impact the daily life of the local population along the Administrative Boundary lines. They had exchanged practical views on freedom of movement and opportunities to travel, as well as cultural heritage and irrigation water supply. Issues of missing persons, detainees and displaced persons had also been raised.
The participants had also attended an informative session on public health issues.
The participants had agreed to hold the following session on 17-18 June 2014.
ANTTI TURUNEN, United Nations Representative to the Geneva International Discussions and the Joint Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism, said that the 27th round had been held in active and pragmatic atmosphere, with all the participants demonstrating their commitment to the process. A number of issues that could have an impact on the daily lives of the population had been addressed.
Mr. Turunen stated that the overall security situation remained calm and stable with no noted incidents that could have a negative impact on the overall security situation. The hotline had been used very actively by the participants. The freedom of movement had also been satisfactory and at a stable level, while humanitarian access for international organizations traveling to Abkhazia had been well respected. Mr. Turunen welcomed the fact that life-saving ambulance services had also been allowed to move freely.
The issue of the non-resumption of the Gali IPRM remained, on which no progress had been made. It was hoped that the participants would see a practical value of that mechanism so that future escalations could be avoided.
ANGELO GNÄDINGER, Special Representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus, said that he had taken his functions a few months earlier, with a focus on the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms in the vicinity of the Administrative Boundary line. That was a practical operational mechanism bringing together relevant authorities from security and social sectors, who were meeting once a month. Mr. Gnädinger said that it was an interesting and motivating experience to see that, although on key political issues the parties continued to disagree, there was still professionalism in addressing quite practical and sometimes also sensitive issues. Those issues were related to the dividing line which went across century-built up areas, including villages, thus cutting across families and neighborhoods, which had an impact on the daily lives of people.
Mr. Gnädinger said that that all the participants had picked on those practical issues in a responsible manner; ways had to be found, and often were found, to pragmatically address the issues. The overall security situation in the area of Gali was calm and stable, but as there was still a political conflict, there were situations when behaviors of one side or the other could be provocations or perceived as provocations, such as flights over the Administrative Boundary line, or visible and audible demonstrations which irritated the other side. Addressing those issues, calming down the situation, trying to create a constructive atmosphere in order to find pragmatic solutions were challenging but rewarding tasks.
Questions from the Press
Answering a question on whether the crisis in Ukraine had affected the talks, Mr. Fernandez de la Peña said that Ukraine was in everybody’s mind, but the Geneva International Discussions were a distinct, separate process and the focus had been kept on the agenda of the day. The session had taken place in a constructive and calm atmosphere and the participants had debated specific issues related to the Geneva discussions.
Answering another question on whether the Geneva International Discussions could be an example for solving the question of Crimea, Mr. Fernandez de la Peña responded that it was a speculative question. The Geneva International Discussions had a very specific format; each conflict had its own particularities, every crisis required a tailored-made answer and the specific elements of the Geneva process could not be easily replicated in other contexts. Nevertheless, the pragmatic and constructive spirit and the work under the consensus rule could be applied more broadly to other contexts.
For use of the information media; not an official record