HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESS CONFERENCE OF CO-CHAIRS OF THE GENEVA INTERNATIONAL DISCUSSIONS
12 December 2012
Philippe Lefort, European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus and for the crisis in Georgia, reading out the press communiqué at the end of the twenty-second round of the Geneva International Discussions, said the participants of the Geneva International Discussions had just completed their twenty-second round. In Working Group I, the participants reviewed the security situation on the ground and assessed it as relatively stable and calm since the last round of the Geneva Discussions. All participants reiterated the need to resume the meetings of the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM). The participants also discussed the issue of Non-Use of Force and International Security Arrangements, including concrete proposals by participants. Following this discussion, experts continued, on the basis of a Co-Chairs’ draft, work on a possible joint statement. The Co-Chairs distributed a catalogue of Best Practices on Freedom of Movement from IPRMs, taking stock of the work already done within the two IPRMs for future discussions.
Mr. Lefort said in Working Group II, the participants reviewed the humanitarian situation and reiterated the need to care for the most vulnerable populations. They exchanged views on issues related to missing persons and the possibility of organizing visits across the lines for persons affected by the conflicts. In addition, participants took part in an information session devoted to the assessment of the needs and requirements of affected populations. The Co-Chairs would be engaging in intensive consultations with the participants on organizational issues. The participants agreed to hold their next session on 26 and 27 March 2013.
Antti Turunen, United Nations Representative to the Geneva International Discussions and the Joint Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism, said that during the discussion, he had expressed his regret that the Gali IPRM meetings had not been resumed due to the lack of consensus among the participants on procedural matters. But all in all he would say that albeit differences on certain issues, this round had demonstrated that all the participants were committed to the process and were ready to continue discussions. There was an understanding that the Geneva process was the only forum where important issues related to security and humanitarian needs were discussed. As was said already, the overall situation on the ground remained relatively calm and stable and he attributed that to the achievements of the respective law enforcement agencies and he hoped that the current trend would continue. He was also pleased that freedom of movement had been more or less respected and the average number of daily crossings seemed to be working rather smoothly. Also documentarian access had been working unhindered. Mr. Turunen said he truly believed that all efforts should now be taken in order to resume the work of the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism. In conclusion, he would like to thank his Irish colleague, Ambassador Pádraig Murphy for his contribution. He was leaving now the Co-Chair team. He would also like to welcome the new Ukrainian Special Representative Ambassador Andrei Deshchytsia among them to continue the work on behalf of the OSCE starting 1 January. On his part, he would continue the work and would stay committed as the United Nations Representative to the process.
Pádraig Murphy, Special Representative of the OSCE and Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus, said he would like to highlight the meetings of the Ergneti Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism which met along the administrative boundary line with South Ossetia and which had worked very satisfactorily this year. He would also like to mention water projects implemented by the OSCE and financed by the EU which provided irrigation and potable water on both sides of the administrative boundary line between South Ossetia and Georgia. The practical results of these projects had to be underlined, practical for the people living in the area, but also helpful to build confidence on both sides of the administrative boundary line which was also important. As this was his last meeting of the Geneva Discussions, he allowed himself to draw some lessons from the Northern Ireland peace process which had given rise to the Good Friday Agreement some years ago; in this sense, the achievement of peace was a long process which required patience and perseverance, and it was important to take many cumulative small steps in the direction of peace. He thought it was important to convey his view on this at his last meeting. Mr. Murphy thanked his two Co-Chairs, Philippe Lefort and Antti Turunen, for the excellent relationship he had enjoyed with them over the past year, and also welcomed his successor Ambassador Andrei Deshchytsia of Ukraine and wished him every success during the forthcoming year when he would be the Special Representative of the new Chairmanship-in-Office.
In response to a question, Mr. Lefort said this was indeed the first round for the new team from Georgia and he believed they were in a position to make contact on the functioning of things and on the problems and questions that were discussed. They had had very productive discussions on the non-use of force. They had also engaged in discussions on freedom of movement and had exchanged views on the evolution of the discussions and on a number of organizational issues on which the Co-Chairs had asked them to work on to find a consensus.
For use of the information media; not an official record