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Gas supply to be resumed in Geneva2013-03-15 17:22
At the next round of talks in Geneva Georgian side intends to raise the issue of resuming supply of natural gas to South Ossetia again. In addition, Georgia has initiated simplification of crossing the dividing line. What are the proposals of the Georgian side, and what do the experts think about the Geneva format - whether it makes sense to continue the negotiation process at this level?
Manana Mekvabishvili is crossing the dividing line when going to Akhalgori almost daily. She carries products to Tbilisi - to sale, and takes home different goods. She says that in recent time it has become easier to cross the border, while earlier it was quite problematic. "The Russian border guards forbade driving, they say such is the order, then the Georgian police suddenly, for no apparent reason began to screen us. And during the parliamentary election in Georgia the border was closed for several days.
- Have you heard something about intention to restore the flow of gas from Georgia for the residents of Akhalgori?
"Yes, there are talks about it", says Manana. "But we've lost all hope. We are heating as we can, because we have no gas for the last five years".
The Georgian side is preparing a package of new initiatives before the next round of talks in Geneva with a long name - "International consultation on security in the South Caucasus". State Minister for Reintegration Zakareishvili proposes the Ossetian side to agree on resumption of gas supply to Akhalgori, where, basically, the Georgian population resides. However, officially, the agenda of the next meeting in Geneva has not yet been agreed.
- We have prepared a package of initiatives for the government to simplify communications", the head of the NGO "For the Rights of Refugees" Zurab Bendianishvili told reporters.
- This will affect simplified crossing of the "dividing lines", as well as the restoration of Georgia's supply of natural gas to Akhalgori (Leningori) region of South Ossetia, which is traditionally populated by the Georgians.
State Minister Zakareishvili is cautious in his forecasts and he's trying to play safe for the case of failure of the initiative. Before the previous round of the Geneva discussions, he said that if the South Ossetian side agrees to restore the natural gas supply to Akhalgori, it has to answer to the people of the region why the process is not moving forward. "If you fail to resume gas supply to Akhalgori, it is not the fault of the Georgian side, and the same applies to our other initiatives for Abkhazia and South Ossetia", Zakareishvili told reporters.
Geneva format is the only place of the direct dialogue between Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Russia. But while the Geneva discussions do not go beyond discussions. Consultations are underway, exchange of views takes place, but when it comes to decision-making, all the parties are showing intransigence. So it was at the last round in December 2012.
According to experts, one of the main problems is lack of specific information. Political expert Kakha Gogolashvili notes that one can only speak of the possibility of concrete results in the long term. "Today it is important to achieve a higher level of trust between the parties", Gogolashvili said in an interview to GeorgiaTimes. "But it's difficult to talk about the reaction, since we do not know what will the Ossetian side undertake. I do not see any willingness to cooperate. In recent time, the dialogue in Geneva consultations is associated with serious difficulties. Perhaps the dialogue with Russia can help in the negotiations. Of course, we can achieve a specific agreement to facilitate crossing the demarcation line