The United States was pleased to participate in the twenty-second round of the Geneva International Discussions on December 11-12, which remain a valuable framework for improving the security and humanitarian situation in Georgia. We commend the Geneva Co-Chairs (Ambassadors Philippe Lefort of the European Union, Antti Turunen of the United Nations, and Padraig Murphy of the OSCE Chairmanship) for their work to advance these goals, and we reiterate our appreciation for the vital work of the European Union Monitoring Mission along the Administrative Boundary Lines and in the affected communities.
We welcome the readiness of participants to engage in serious and frank discussions. At the same time, we regret the decision of some participants to walk out of the afternoon session of Working Group II. This unfortunate and unprovoked action limited the ability of the participants to discuss new initiatives or to make progress in the interest of the people affected by the conflict.
We note that that these discussions, now in their fifth year, remain the most important forum we have to reduce the intensity of this conflict and address the needs of the people on the ground. The current format allows the participants to address humanitarian issues outside the constraints of political disagreement, and any attempts to change this arrangement will result in less, not more, progress both here in Geneva and on the ground.
We continue to call on the de facto authorities in South Ossetia and Abkhazia to increase international humanitarian access to territories under their control. We encourage the Russian Federation to match Georgia’s legally-binding commitment to the non-use or threat of force, and we look forward to a resumption of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism in Gali as soon as possible.