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Georgia-Russia. Modalities of the Geneva discussion

(B2) The negotiations which will open in Geneva on October 15 between Georgians and Russians are a “‘discussion’ not a lecture. This is the term chosen in theceasefire agreement which puts an end to military operations” explained a senior European diplomat. The difference is significant: It’s not a one-time encounter. But the start of a process, with a view to resolving problems on the ground”. The goal is not “ to impose a plan but allow the parties to express themselves, facilitate discussion and commitments to resolve the most urgent problems”.

A meeting every two weeks

The meeting is expected to begin the day before (October 14) with a dinner given by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, on behalf of the EU, with both parties, and the co-chairs (Alexander Stubb, for the OSCE, and Ban Ki Moon, for the UN). It will continue with a first plenary meeting on the 15th, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The two items on the agenda

“There is no specific agenda” for these first meetings. " The idea is to get to work, between the parties, a few weeks after a confrontation”. But what is under discussion are the “ two points provided for by the ceasefire agreement: stability on the ground, and the situation of people and refugees”. But we already have an idea of ​​the questions to be resolved. 1. On stability, “ we must provide a procedure, a code of conduct, (a hierarchy of decisions), see what can be resolved on site or what can be at another level. » 2. For refugees. " We must facilitate the return to normal civilian life, the movement of goods and people., etc There are points where you have to go quickly. " Winter is coming, we are in the mountain region, and there are still people on the tents »

Go fast and be concrete

Our intention is to " continue at a steady pace to go fast enough. A meeting should take place every two weeks” explains this diplomat. " We want to keep the same tempo, the same rhythm to avoid getting bogged down on the ground which could worsen security and cause an uncontrollable situation." to have a " back to normal on the pitch as quickly as possible”. “Major questions must also be addressed” some of which " go back to Georgia at the beginning of its independence, since August but also to the situation since 1992”. The status of the territories will no doubt be discussed. But in a second time. " If we start there, we won't get anywhere. We need a bottom-up approach. From concrete problems to more sensitive, more political problems.

Participation of Ossetians and Abkhazians in working groups

The discussion will take place in a formal plenary session and in two working groups: one on stability (security issues), the other on refugees and displaced people (humanitarian and everyday life issues). The Ossetians and Abkhazians will not be present in plenary but will be present in the working groups. In these groups, the principle is to “ involving all parties”, informally, “ to address concrete problems, with all those concerned” explains our senior diplomat. So around the table there will be “ no name of the entity depicted, just the name of the person. These are diplomatic artifices, of course — recognizes our interlocutor. Corn these tricks have been used by diplomats for centuries, and without them we wouldn't stop waging war. »

A trio of Europeans to chair the plenary

The plenary will have a more formal operation, with identification of people by entity – meaning without official representation of Ossetians and Abkhazians. It will be co-chaired by the three organizations present in the region – the EU, the UN and the OSCE, the “three institutions have, in common, having observers on the ground and practical experience”. In fact, however, it will be above all a trio of Europeans who will be in charge: respectively, the French Pierre Morell (EU / EUMM), former ambassador to Moscow special representative in Central Asia; the Belgian Johan Verbeke (MONUG), Belgian diplomat former chief of staff of Minister Neyts, in Lebanon and at the UN; the Finnish woman, Terhi Hakala, diplomat, former head of the Eastern Europe-Central Asia sector in Helsinki (OSCE). In addition to the co-presidency, the Russians, Georgians and Americans (probably Daniel Fried, the US Under-Secretary of State for Europe) will be there.

Back and forth between plenary and working groups

Between the plenary and the working groups, there will be a back and forth. We work on several levels. » These principles have been accepted by all ». At the plenaries, each delegation will be represented by special representatives or vice ministers, according to the 1+3 principle (1 representative and 3 advisers). In the working groups, there will be more experts, according to the 1+5 principle (1 representative, 5 advisers).

No change in format of the EUMM Georgia observation mission

Responding to some about russians, the diplomat denied any plans to arm European observers. “ An approach has been agreed by the EU. It fully assumes the commitments made. She does it with her means and her experience. »

European design, experience…

There are two concepts a territorial military conception of the control of an area, this approach exists (but) the European approach is different, it is an approach of support for the return to civilian life by focusing on civilians. And added: “our observers have multiple experiences: in Pristina, Beirut, Aceh, Skopje… I am not automatically saying that it is better than other methods, but that is our conception » of European intervention, he added.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).