Geneva Talks Co-Chairs Call for ‘Greater Cooperation across Dividing Lines’

The Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions (GDI), UN Representative Cihan Sultanoğlu, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus Rudolf Michalka, and EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia Toivo Klaar released a statement on March 31, in which they are calling for “greater cooperation across dividing lines” amid novel coronavirus pandemic.

The 51st round of GID, which was set to take place on 31 March – 1 April, has been postponed amid the “spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

Commending the efforts of health professionals and others working hard to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Co-Chairs appeal to all GID participants “to put aside mistrust and animosity, avoid antagonistic rhetoric, and work together to reach out to the most vulnerable.”

The Co-Chairs said they “urge all GID participants to do their utmost to protect vulnerable conflict-affected populations, especially women, men and children in areas facing particular isolation.” “These populations need assistance and must not be allowed to suffer even more,” reads the statement.

The Co-Chairs also stressed that they “are encouraged by some collaborative approaches that have already taken place, but more needs to be done to ensure that all people, regardless of where they happen to live or what language they may speak, have equal access to health care.”

“While co-operation across dividing lines, under other circumstances, may be challenging, we appeal to all participants of the GID to set aside differences and ensure that all individuals have the best possible access to testing and treatment,” the Co-Chairs stated.

The GIDs are co-chaired by representatives of OSCE, EU and UN, and involve participants from Georgia, Russia and the United States, as well as members of both the Georgian exiled administrations of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and the two regions’ Russian-backed authorities, in their personal capacities. Sessions are held in two working groups, with the first group discussing peace and security matters, and the second – humanitarian concerns.

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