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TWENTY-THIRD ROUND OF GENEVA INTERNATIONAL DISCUSSIONS CONCLUDES
27 March 2013

The Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions gave a press conference this afternoon at the end of the twenty-third round of the Discussions.

PHILIPPE LEFORT, European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus and for the crisis in Georgia, reading out the joint press communiqué, said in Working Group I, the participants reviewed the security situation on the ground and welcomed the continuing stability and calm observed since the previous round. The participants had reiterated the need to resume the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meetings and welcomed the positive dynamics of work in Ergneti IPRM.

The participants also discussed the issue of Non-Use of Force and International Security Arrangements and the Experts group had constructively discussed the draft statement of the Geneva International Discussions on non-use of force. They had exchanged views and opinions and agreed to continue the drafting at the next round on the basis of the Co-Chairs' revised draft. The participants had also reviewed and welcomed the catalogue of Best Practices on Freedom of Movement from IPRMs distributed by the Co-Chairs during the previous round.

In Working Group II, the participants reviewed the humanitarian situation. They exchanged views on issues related to missing persons and the possibility of organizing visits across the dividing lines for persons affected by the conflicts. In addition, participants stressed the need for special provisions in case of medical emergencies. They also exchanged views on the importance of preservation of cultural heritage. The participants then held an information meeting after the conclusion of both working groups.

ANTTI TURUNEN, United Nations Representative to the Geneva International Discussions and the Joint Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism, said participants continued discussions on security and humanitarian related issues in a constructive atmosphere. This demonstrated the commitment of participants to the Geneva discussions, in spite of the great political difficulties to be tackled in the forthcoming rounds.

Yesterday (26 March 2013) an information session was organized titled, "Role of Women in Conflict Resolution". It focused on models and best practices that have been applied in conflict situations in order to enhance discussions on the conditions of women, their rights and participation in conflict-resolution processes on the basis of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000).

Ambassador Turunen said he was pleased about the discussions on freedom of movement, which was a key aspect in order to improve the access of humanitarian organizations to carry out their important work on the ground.

ANDRII DESHCHYTSIA, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Conflicts, also welcomed the outcome of today’s discussions. The situation on the administrative boundary line was discussed: it had been calm and stable since the last round of talks in Geneva.

They also discussed the work of the Ergneti IPRM, which had held four meetings in a constructive atmosphere since the last Geneva round.

Thanks to the positive approach taken by the participants the security situation on the ground had improved. However, there were still issues to be addressed, such as improving freedom of movement to make the everyday working lives of people living in the administrative boundary line easier. On the issue of the framework of the hotline currently in use, it had proved to be useful and efficient, he said.

A number of water projects in South Ossetia, thanks to the joint efforts of the EU and OSCE, were mentioned, with one already completed and others in the process of implementation.

Answering a question, Ambassador Lefort said there had been no change of format to this round of discussions, instead there had been a small organizational change based on the initial rounds of discussions in order to make negotiations more practical.

The participants agreed to hold their next session on 25th and 26th June 2013.

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For use of the information media; not an official record