07TBILISI2018, DAS BRYZA MEETS WITH FM BEZHUASHVILI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2018 2007-08-13 05:30 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8410
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2018/01 2250530
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 130530Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7275
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002018 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: DAS BRYZA MEETS WITH FM BEZHUASHVILI 
 
REF: TBILISI 1604 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Mark X. Perry, for reasons 1.4 (b) and 
 (d) 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  On July 27, DAS Bryza met with Foreign 
Minister Gela Bezhuashvili on the conflicts in Abkhazia and 
South Ossetia.  Bezhuashvili told Bryza that the Georgian 
government was not happy with the latest United Nations 
report on the situation in Abkhazia, adding that the Group of 
Friends should avoid focusing on technical details and 
instead concentrate on settlement of the conflict and return 
of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to Abkhazia.  Bryza 
explained that the reason the last Friends meeting was 
technical was because of the recent tensions in the Gali 
district of Abkhazia, and once the tension subsides, the 
Friends could get back to strategic discussions on the peace 
process.   Bezhuashvili thanked Bryza for the strong U.S. 
support of Georgia in the UN Friends process, and said 
Georgia continues to reach out to the French and Germans to 
explain their position on the conflicts.  He emphasized that 
Georgia understands the situation in the conflict zones 
remains tense, and it must be patient in looking for a 
solution.  Bryza said Georgia's more measured and 
constructive approach over the past year had placed it in a 
stronger diplomatic position.  Bezhuashvili said the Georgian 
government has invited the EU, OSCE, and Russia to serve on 
the Georgian governmental commission on the issue of autonomy 
for South Ossetia within Georgia and will invite the Venice 
Commission to comment on the GoG's draft paper on autonomy 
once it is finished.  End Summary. 
 
Georgia "not happy" with UN report on Abkhazia 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
2.  (C)  Bezhuashvili told Bryza that the Georgian government 
was not happy with the latest report from the UN Secretary 
General on Abkhazia.   He said that Deputy Foreign Minister 
Manjgaladze formally raised Georgian concerns with the Group 
of Friends earlier on July 27 (septel), adding that the focus 
of the Group of Friends should return to a strategic 
discussion of conflict resolution and return of the IDPs and 
not on technical issues.  Bryza noted that the reason the 
last Friends meeting in Bonn (reftel) was technical was 
because of recent tensions in Gali, and that Georgia needed 
to play a role in reducing such tension.  He said the Friends 
needed to return to strategic discussions on Abkhazia, 
discussions that would be facilitated with the reduction of 
tensions in Gali.  Bezhuashvili thanked Bryza for continued 
U.S. support of Georgia in the UN Friends process, and said 
his criticism was aimed at other members of the Group of 
Friends.  He said the Europeans lack understanding of 
Abkhazia.  He noted that the Georgians continue to engage the 
French and Germans on Abkhazia. Relations with Germany were 
improving; German Chancellor Merkel has invited President 
Saakashvili to Berlin in October. 
 
3.  (C)  Bezhuashvili also said that the Georgians hoped that 
the upcoming renewal of the United Nations Observer Mission 
to Georgia (UNOMIG) in October would produce a resolution 
that underscored support for Georgia's territorial integrity, 
called for IDP returns, and highlighted Russian 
obstructionism.  A fallback could be a technical rollover. 
Bryza assured Bezhuashvili that the U.S. would remain 
steadfast in supporting Georgia's territorial integrity and 
its right and obligation to administer to its citizens in the 
Upper Kodori Valley.  The U.S. would not be blackmailed by 
possible Russian threats not to renew UNOMIG's mandate unless 
Georgian personnel withdrew from the Upper Kodori.  He also 
reiterated our arguments to Russia cautioning against Russian 
recognition of Abkhaz independence in the wake of a Kosovo 
decision - that Russian recognition of Abkhaz independence 
will damage Russian national interests in the North Caucasus, 
and that there can be no legitimacy for a political entity 
whose claims of independence derive from a referendum 
conducting in the wake of ethnic cleansing.  Bezhuashvili 
replied that he thought the Russian position on Kosovo 
stemmed from a belief that the U.S is using the issue of 
Kosovo independence to undermine Russia.   He said Russia 
fears that Kosovo independence will spur Russia's 
unrecognized republics to also declare independence, which 
would lead to a disintegration of the Russian state. 
 
Georgia patiently looking for a solution on South Ossetia 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
 
4.  (C)  Bezhuashvili said that the Georgians have invited 
the Russians to engage them on determining South Ossetia's 
political status, and specifically, on a definition of 
autonomy.  He argued that the Russians have a lot to gain 
from working with Georgia to resolve the South Ossetian 
conflict, especially greater stability in the North Caucasus. 
 Everyone knows that South Ossetia is a bargaining chip for 
 
TBILISI 00002018  002 OF 002 
 
 
the Russians, he said, but their price is currently too high. 
 If the Russians stopped financing Kokoiti and agreed to a 
joint Georgia-Russia monitoring of the Roki tunnel, 
Bezhuashvili speculated t
hat Kokoiti would be gone within a 
matter of weeks.  He said that Russian Foreign Minister 
Lavrov hinted that such a deal was possible, but was "not 
within his competence."  Georgia understands that the 
situation in South Ossetia remains tense, he said, and it 
needs to be patient and allow the peace process to continue. 
Bryza told Bezhuashvili that the Secretary was aware of the 
positive steps Georgia was taking on the conflicts and 
commended the Georgian government on its efforts.  He 
suggested that Georgia's approach in recent months of 
providing positive incentives to attract South Ossetians back 
to Georgia, coupled with growing popular support for Dmitry 
Sanakoyev as an alternative to Kokoity had changed the 
trajectory of the conflict in Tbilisi's favor.  The U.S. 
would continue pressing in the OSCE for key confidence 
building measures - e.g., more OSCE military observers, an 
OSCE checkpoint at the strategic Didi Gupta road juncture, 
and joint Georgian-Russian monitoring of the Roki tunnel. 
 
5.  (C)  The Georgian government is currently drafting a 
legal framework for South Ossetian autonomy within the 
Republic, Bezhuashvili said, and has invited the EU, OSCE, 
and Russia to serve on a commission to inform the process. 
The Georgian government will also invite the Venice 
Commission to comment on their draft paper on autonomy, and 
Prime Minister Noghaideli will travel to Vienna in October to 
brief the OSCE on the process and the commission.  He said 
Georgia continues to tell Russia that a stable South Ossetia 
will keep the North Caucasus stable as well, but the Russians 
remain unconvinced, and believe that Georgia is being used by 
the U.S. to undermine Russia. 
 
6.  (U)  DAS Bryza has cleared this cable. 
PERRY

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