Press Statement by the U.S. Delegation
December 14, 2016
At the thirty-eighth round of the Geneva International Discussions on the conflict in Georgia December 13-14, the United States welcomed the continued successful operation of the Gali and Ergneti Incident Prevention Response Mechanisms (IPRMs), as an important contribution to peace and stability. The United States also congratulated the EU Monitoring Mission for its efforts to facilitate medical crossings and maintain the incident hotline, work that has helped to reduce tensions along the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) and maintain relatively calm conditions on the ground.
The United Stated also thanked Georgia for its recent constructive cooperation in agreeing to legalize and translate evidence related to the investigation of the May 19 fatal shooting of a Georgian civilian along the ABL. We urged the Abkhaz to build on this spirit of cooperation and move the investigation forward in a transparent and timely manner. We regret that the parties were unable to reach an agreement on a potential joint statement on the non-use of force, but look forward to continuing this conversation in the next round in March.
The United States noted concerns about reported additional restrictions on the freedom of movement in Abkhazia, including plans to close all but one crossing point along the ABL. We believe this would significantly disrupt the lives of local residents, limiting access to health care and preventing children from getting to school safely.
Although participants held useful discussions for most of the round, the United States regrets that the two working groups were not able to complete discussion of their agendas, including a discussion of internally displaced persons. The United States urges participants to look for practical steps forward to resolve humanitarian issues, including the core issues of IDPs, refugees, and returns during future rounds of negotiations.
Together with Georgia, Russia, and representatives of the de facto authorities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the United States participates in the Geneva International Discussions, which are co-chaired by the EU, UN, and OSCE, and began in 2008 to address the consequences of the conflict in Georgia.
The United States fully supports Georgia’s territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders.