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Trouble in EU-Abkhazia relations does not affect South Ossetia talks

by | May 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Breakaway Abkhazia refuses to cooperate with a Polish general who represents the EU, and the EU refuses to replace him, leading to breakdown in talks, but the dispute has had no effect on similar talks about South Ossetia.

On April 30 parties gathered for the 22nd meeting within the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism for South Ossetia.

The meeting took place in Ergneti, a village near the administrative border and was facilitated by the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and OSCE.

After another breakaway region, Abkhazia, canceled a meeting of the same mechanism on April 24, there was doubt about whether the meeting in Ergneti would be conducted or not.

The canceled meeting should have been held in Gali, inside Abkhazia, but the Abkhaz foreign ministry declared EUMM head Andrzej Tyszkiewicz a persona non grata, citing his show of disrespect.

Abkhazia’s foreign ministry said the Polish general had failed to investigate several murders near the border, and that when questioned about this, he had showed disrespect.

EUMM proved unwilling to let someone else meet in Tyszkiewicz’s place, and the meeting was called off.

There was no such blockage getting in the way of the IPRM meeting for South Ossetia.

These meetings have been held since February 2009, and come as a measure to defuse tension and clear up misunderstandings following the Russo-Georgian war in 2008.

Participants at the Ergneti meeting discussed the latest incidents, which are shootings in the two villages Zemo Nikozi and Kvemo Nikozi, and damage done to a warning sign near the administrative border around South Ossetia.

Pádraig Murphy, Special Representative of the OSCE to South Caucasus, shared information about ongoing work on the Zonkari dam. EUMM presented the results of work by a technical group for agricultural issues near the border.

The next meeting will take place on May 25 and will handle the issue of beginning to demine the area near the so-called dividing line and about security guarantees of the people who will be doing the work to clear mines.

Andrzej Tyszkiewicz also attended the meeting. The meeting lasted for three hours.

One of the reasons Abkhazia cited for declaring Tyszkiewicz an unwanted person was that EUMM didn’t mention in its report six murders in the Georgia-Abkhazian conflict zone in November 2011 and March 2012.

It is not known when the next meeting in Abkhazia will be held or what influence the latest diplomatic exchanges may have on the future of these meetings.

EU’s foreign policy spokeswoman Catherine Ashton expressed concern about the canceled meeting in Gali, but she refused to replace the head of the EUMM, General Tyszkiewicz.



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