|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Grigol Vashadze
Recent talks had brought Georgia and the Russian Federation no closer to ending their longstanding political stalemate, said a top Georgian official, speaking at a Headquarters press conference today.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Grigol Vashadze, said that “no substantial breakthroughs” had been made at the just-concluded fifteenth round of the negotiations, first launched in Geneva following a military conflict in 2008.
“The situation unfortunately is very tense and there is nothing to be joyous about,” said Mr. Vashadze. He added that the talks — organized jointly by the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) — would nonetheless continue into their next round later this month.
At the heart of the impasse lay a disagreement between the parties on their respective commitments to the non-use of force, said the Minister. Georgian officials had insisted that the Russian Federation reciprocate Georgia’s non-use-of-force pledge with a similar commitment, but the Russian Federation, arguing that it was not a party to the conflict, had refused and instead called on Tbilisi to sign a legally binding non-use-of-force treaty.
“Russia is not prepared to talk about core issues,” said Mr. Vashadze. “We are prepared to talk to Russians any time, any place, without preconditions,” he added, emphasizing that Georgia would make all possible attempts to advance the dialogue in Geneva.
The difficult situation in what Mr. Vashadze referred to as Russian-occupied parts of Georgia “remained unchanged”, with continued human rights abuses, including bans on the use of the Georgian language and cultural practices. He also said that Russian forces had recently introduced large weapons into parts of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, including operational tactical missiles.
An estimated 10 per cent of the Georgian population had been displaced or had become refugees, owing to the ethnic unrest of recent years, he added.
One correspondent asked about Georgia’s reactions to a ruling yesterday by the International Court of Justice, in the case Georgia v. Russian Federation concerning the application of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. (See www.icj-cij.org for a summary of the ruling.)
In response, Mr. Vashadze called that ruling “totally ridiculous” and pointed to the wide influence that the Russian Federation had in international affairs — including at the United Nations. “I am tremendously disappointed” about the Court’s decision, he added.
Replying to a question about how future United Nations presence in the region would be funded, Mr. Vashadze said that no agreement had been reached. While proposed financing suggestions included the creation of a trust fund and formal budgetary action through the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the Russian Federation had blocked both of those avenues, he said.
The current extraordinary funding for a United Nations presence in the region, provided by the Organization’s Secretariat, had been extended until 30 April, he added. It was unclear, however, whether those funds might be extended beyond that date. For its part, Georgia wished to have as much international presence in the region as possible, he stressed.
* *** *For information media • not an official record