Abkhazian and Georgian officials have agreed to resume a dialogue mechanism designed to reduce tensions which has been suspended since April 2012.
The Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM), which will again meet in the Abkhazian town of Gali, is designed to identify risks, exchange information and follow up on incidents, in order prevent minor events developing into bigger problems.
“After a break of four years, resumption of this mechanism is a serious step forward to provide for security on the ground,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The discussions in the Swiss capital have been going on since the war between Georgia and Russia over the disputed territories on South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which took place in August 2008.
The IPRM will once again meet in the Abkhazian town of Gali. It was suspended four years ago after the former head of the EU Monitoring Mission was denounced as an “undesirable person” by the Abkhazian delegation. However when Andrzej Tyszkiewicz’s term finished in 2013, the IPRM did not resume.
An IPRM between Georgia and South Ossetia has been in place since the 2008 war, with only a short suspension in 2010.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, Russian chief negotiator in the Geneva talks, also welcomed the agreement as “extremely significant”, while the Abkhazians described it as “positive”.
The breakthrough came at the Geneva talks, now in their 35th round, which bring together Georgian, Russian and American negotiators, as well as representatives from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. They are chaired by the EU, OSCE and UN.
The talks have been going on since the 2008 war. The next round will take place in June.
Russian negotiators said this week that increasing cooperation between Georgia and NATO are a barrier to further progress.
Air Force General Philip Breedlove, commander of the U.S. European Command, said this year’s annual US-Georgia joint military displays will be “bigger and better” than before, speaking in Tbilisi yesterday on a two day visit.