March 26, 2021
During the 52nd round of the Geneva International Discussions (GID) on the conflict in Georgia, the United States welcomed the commitment of the GID participants to continued dialogue despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The United States took positive note of continued cooperation between international partners and GID participants to alleviate the effects of COVID-19 in Georgia’s occupied territories, including through measures to help vulnerable populations access social assistance allowances and medical care. The U.S. delegation expressed regret that many opportunities had been lost to save lives through collaborative COVID-19 response and urged participants to take advantage of all opportunities for life-saving cooperation as the COVID-19 pandemic continued. The United States noted the severe humanitarian and economic impact of ongoing Administrative Boundary Line closures, particularly on the most vulnerable populations.
The United States welcomed discussions on clarifying the fate of missing persons and urged progress on all cases, regardless of where, when, and under what circumstances the individuals disappeared. The United States regrets there was no discussion on the critical issue of internally displaced persons and refugee returns due to a walk-out by participants from the Russian Federation and de facto authorities.
The United States welcomed continued meetings of the Ergneti Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM). The U.S. delegation encouraged participants to utilize Ergneti IPRM meetings to resolve the ongoing standoff near Chorchana and Tsnelisi, develop practical measures for addressing medical and economic hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and take other steps to support the local population. The United States expressed hope the Gali IPRM would resume meetings in the near future. The U.S. delegation urged all participants to make full use of the GID, IPRMs and other opportunities for dialogue to improve humanitarian, social and economic conditions in the region.
The United States expressed regret at continued borderization during the pandemic, including several kilometers of fencing and barriers added along the South Ossetia and Abkhazia administrative boundary lines (ABLs) since the emergence of COVID-19. The U.S. delegation noted these actions increase personal and economic hardships among vulnerable populations at an already difficult time. The United States urged Russian and de facto authorities to end the practice of detaining innocent civilians in and around the occupied territories and to release current detainees.
The U.S. delegation urged all participants to renew their focus on implementation of the EU-mediated 2008 six-point ceasefire agreement as the core mandate of the GID, and regretted more progress had not been made in this area. The United States noted many lives could have been saved during the COVID-19 pandemic if humanitarian organizations had been allowed unhindered access to the full territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in accordance with the 2008 agreement. The U.S. delegation further noted that withdrawal of troops to pre-conflict positions, as agreed in 2008, would prevent further civilian detentions and help ensure citizen access to the best possible care in case of medical emergencies.
The United States welcomed initiatives by the GID Co-Chairs to reinvigorate discussions in the GID format, including through organization of information sessions, distribution of draft proposals, and proposed creation of sub-working groups on issues of mutual interest. The U.S. delegation urged all participants to take advantage of these opportunities and seek paths forward on fulfillment of the 2008 agreement.
The United States welcomed efforts by the GID Co-Chairs to elevate the voices of women, youth and other underrepresented populations in the conflict resolution process. The U.S. delegation looked forward to future cooperation to ensure these views are represented in negotiation processes.
The United States fully supports Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.