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Cautious optimism after the Ergneti meeting

2009-04-27 20:54

This is not an argument speaking only in favour of constructiveness of the Genevan discussions; this is a step forward to a rational approach to the South-Caucasian problems.

As Hans-Yorg Haber, Head of the EU mission in Georgia, who has been present at the meeting, observed right after the negotiations, "Tbilisi, Tskhinval and Moscow are fully aware of the need for a dialogue, - "Rosbalt" is quoting him. - It is not yet time to speak of any practical outcome; the main point is that the dialogue has started. Regardless of the current difficulties, my views are quite optimistic. We are working upon a constructive format, which is going to work on-site not theoretically, but practically".

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Of course, the first meeting did no go so smoothly. As Merab Chigoev reported, the language of the future Ergneti negotiations remains undefined. "They suggested that it should be English, but we insisted upon Russian because it would be more convenient for everyone if we spoke Russian, - Gazeta is quoting him. - We have not yet received the final answer from our colleagues but we are going to insist upon it".

Another complicated organizational matter is co-chairmanship. Tskhinval sees Russia and US in this role, while Tbilisi believes it should be EU and OSCE. The latter, by the way, is residing in the region without any right, for its status is undefined, and the mandate in the Georgian territory expires in June. "The OSCE mission is on its way out of the region, - Chigoev states. - Besides, we have serious questions to put to the mission, which representatives escaped South Ossetia a few days before the war started". Therefore, Russia and/or EU are going to act as co-chairmen. One could reasonably suppose that the participation of both Moscow and Brussels would be the most advantageous way to settle the South-Ossetian conflict.

However, considering the current tone of the discussion participants, all of these organizational matters are quite solvable. An only one point remains distressing: it is the sound of firing that was heard again at the Georgian and South-Ossetian border at night. Now that the Ergneti dialogue has started, there is a hope that it will be diplomats, not weapons that will take the floor in the South Caucasus.

 

Artyom Gorbunov

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