On 30 July 2020, the 96th Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) took place in Ergneti, co-facilitated by Ambassador Marek Szczygieł, Head of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) and Ambassador Rudolf Michalka, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus. As the Head of the EU Monitoring Mission noted the meeting was held in a positive and constructive atmosphere. The participants discussed several issues pertaining to stabilisation and normalisation on the ground.
IPRMs in Ergneti have been stalled since late August, when Tskhinvali representatives, angered by Tbilisi’s construction of a police checkpoint in village Chorchana near the dividing line, disrupted the 95th meeting. The meeting came amid the backdrop of 11-months-long closure of crossing points connecting Tskhinvali region to Georgia proper and Moscow-backed Ossetian authorities’ increased bio-warfare allegations against Tbilisi, local media civil.ge wrote.
The participants welcomed the new co-facilitator, Ambassador Szczygieł, to the IPRM and wished him success in his new assignment. The participants discussed several issues pertaining to stabilisation and normalisation on the ground, including the impact of the prolonged closure of the controlled crossing points along the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) on local communities’ freedom of movement and livelihoods; the security situation in the Chorchana-Tsnelisi area; recent detention cases; as well as other unresolved significant incidents. They also addressed issues pertaining to cross-ABL irrigation infrastructure management.
The co-facilitators welcomed the participants’ commitment to resume regular dialogue in the IPRM format, while commending the active use of the EUMM-managed hotline. The important role of the hotline and OSCE facilitation in lowering tensions, resolving incidents, and facilitating dialogue was underscored. Recalling instances where existing communication channels were used effectively, the co-facilitators emphasized the importance of timely information exchange through all available platforms in order to prevent incidents and reduce tensions along the ABL.
As the Head of the EU Monitoring Mission noted the meeting was held in a positive and constructive atmosphere. “I am glad that a meeting of the Ergneti Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism was held today, which was attended by all participants. The participants discussed several issues pertaining to stabilisation and normalisation on the ground, including recent detention cases; as well as other unresolved significant incidents. Participants expressed their willingness to continue the dialogue. The next meeting is scheduled for September 24, “- Marek Szczygieł said after the meeting, as reported by Georgian Public Broadcasting.
The Georgian State Security Service reported that Tbilisi requested immediate, unconditional release of the detained Georgian citizens. Igor Kochiev, who spoke on behalf of the Moscow-backed Tskhinvali leader, Anatoly Bibilov, raised the issue of alleged airspace violations. Noting that no progress was reached regarding Chorchana checkpoint, Kochiev noted that “in the end, this issue will be resolved through peaceful negotiations,” according to civil.ge
The co-facilitators also pointed out issues relating to the concerns of the conflict-affected population, and called on the participants to continue using the IPRM format for discussing a range of important practical issues. The co-facilitators further acknowledged the exacerbating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on stabilisation and normalisation, and expressed hope for further constructive and co-operative steps towards improving human security in local communities and maintaining general stability on the ground.
On 20 July 2020, The Head of the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM), Ambassador Marek Szczygieł, met the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia. The head of mission congratulated the prime minister on the country’s successful fight against COVID-19. A range of topics was discussed, including the security situation along the Administrative Boundary Lines, recent detention cases and economic challenges of the conflict-affected population.
Also, earlier this month, The Head of the EUMM, Ambassador Marek Szczygieł, was received by the President of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili. President Zourabichvili expressed her appreciation for the valuable role the Mission plays in monitoring developments and facilitating dialogue. President Zourabichvili highlighted the role of the EUMM as the only international monitoring presence on the ground, which provides a unique opportunity to present objective and factual information. Read more.