EU Special Representative Visits Tbilisi, Sokhumi

Toivo Klaar, the European Union Special Representative (EUSR) for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, who co-chairs the Geneva International Discussions, is paying a visit to Tbilisi and Sokhumi on October 12-14, where he met with Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Lasha Darsalia and Abkhaz ‘foreign minister’ Daur Kove, as well as Russian-backed Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania.

Klaar’s visit came as the 51st round of Geneva Talks, scheduled for October 6-7, was disrupted due to Russia’s refusal to participate, as the Georgian Foreign Ministry claimed.

On October 12, Special Representative  Klaar held a meeting with Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Lasha Darsalia in Tbilisi, where they discussed deteriorating human rights, security and humanitarian situation in the occupied territories, amid the “more frequent Russian provocations.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia stated that the illegal detention of Georgian citizens in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali was also highlighted at the meeting, as well as Tbilisi’s efforts to provide aid to the conflict-affected population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the statement, Deputy FM Darsalia voiced concern regarding the disruption of the 51st round of the GID by Russia and appealed to the EU, OSCE and UN to ensure that the Geneva International Discussions are held in December.

In Sokhumi on October 13, the EU Special Representative held a meeting with Abkhaz ‘foreign minister’ Daur Kove, with the parties reportedly discussing the increasingly difficult COVID-19 situation in the region and the Abkhaz leadership’s efforts to prevent “an even greater spread of infection.” According to the Abkhaz ‘foreign ministry,’ Klaar voiced the EU’s readiness to work towards providing Abkhazia with vaccines against the seasonal flu in early November.

Russian-backed Abkhaz authorities reported that Chief of Cabinet to the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and crisis in Georgia Björn Kühne and Political Advisor to the same office Emmanuel Anquetil as well as Gottfried Hanne, Head of Regional Office/Political Advisor to the EUSR also attended the meeting.

On October 14, EUSR Klaar met with Moscow-backed Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania, where the parties discussed the agenda of the upcoming Geneva International Discussions, regional security, the epidemiological situation in Abkhazia, as well as possible EU assistance in “preventing the spread of COVID-19,” as reported by the Russian-backed authorities.

According to the statement, Bzhania named the signing of a document on the non-use of force as the main focus of their GID agenda, calling on the EU to facilitate the agreement.

On his part, EU Special Representative Toivo Klaar stressed the European Union’s interest in regional stability, noting that the EU “looks forward to providing further assistance to Abkhazia,” the Moscow-backed authorities reported.

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