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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1045 2009-06-05 14:29 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #1045/01 1561429
P 051429Z JUN 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 001045 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2019 
     B. GENEVA 0183 
     C. GENEVA 0409 
     D. GENEVA 0229 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 
1. (C) Summary and comment.  On May 29 the EUMM and OSCE 
co-facilitated the second session of the Joint Incident 
Prevention and Response Mechanism (JIPRM) at Dvani on the 
South Ossetian administrative boundary line.  The 
participants engaged on such substantive issues as security 
for locals living near the boundary; gas for Akhalgori; 
electricity for Akhalgori and Tskhinvali; investigation of 
detentions; and joint visits.  The South Ossetian de facto 
representative agreed to allow EUMM and OSCE to facilitate 
the meeting, but insisted that the EU and Russia should 
jointly chair the JIPRM in the long term.  He also raised the 
case of three Ossetians missing since October 2008, stating 
that this case -- and the chairmanship issue -- must be 
resolved before South Ossetia can participate again.  The 
Georgian representative proposed a visit into undisputed 
Georgian territory to investigate the disappearances, 
followed by reciprocal visits to South Ossetia -- but the 
South Ossetian refused.  The next meeting of the JIPRM, 
tentatively scheduled for June 11 in Ditsi, seems unlikely to 
happen.  Even though this session was closer to the original 
mechanism concept than the first, the South Ossetians clearly 
put issues of status above progress on concrete concerns -- 
including those of their own people.  End summary and comment. 
2. (C) In a briefing for diplomatic colleagues on June 4, 
Head of the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) Hansjoerg Haber 
continued his practice of referring to the May 29 session as 
a continuation of the first meeting of the JIPRM, held April 
23 (most of the following is based on his account.  See ref A 
for the first meeting).  His rationale is that the Russian 
and South Ossetian participants only provisionally tolerate 
the arrangement of joint EUMM-OSCE facilitation, and he did 
not want to give them a pretext to boycott the meeting.  He 
also maintains that the discussion was a continuation of 
those points of the original agenda not covered on April 23. 
The meeting got off to a more promising start than the first. 
 OSCE Chief Military Officer Steve Young told Emboff he was 
surprised when the South Ossetian participant, Merab Chigoev 
(deputy of the de facto "president"'s special 
representative), readily agreed to allow EUMM and OSCE to 
continue their role as joint facilitators.  Haber proposed 
that the group start with substantive issues, rather than 
procedural ones, which had taken up the entire four hours of 
the first meeting, and everyone agreed.  Haber detected a 
more cooperative attitude from the South Ossetians and told 
his diplomatic colleagues he thought the Russians had 
prevailed upon them to play nice. 
3. (C) Deputy Reintegration Minister David Rakviashvili, 
leader of the Georgian delegation (he did not participate in 
the first session), raised the issue of freedom of movement 
for local residents who live near the administrative boundary 
lines to access fields and pastures across the boundary.  He 
said that such villagers, who before the August 2008 conflict 
were accustomed to crossing the boundary on a regular basis 
and grew dependent on that access for their livelihood, 
should be able to return home if they cross the boundary. 
Noting the presence of Russian "border guards" along the 
QNoting the presence of Russian "border guards" along the 
boundary, Rakviashvili directed part of his question to the 
Russian representatives, asking what they would do to ensure 
the safety of locals.  Deputy Head of the OSCE's Conflict 
Prevention Center Pascal Heyman, leader of the OSCE 
delegation, also saw this as an important issue.  Chigoev 
admitted the importance of guaranteeing the safety of local 
residents, but said that a "border is a border," so that 
regular movement back and forth would not be possible.  Steve 
Young reported Chigoev also rejected the idea of 
cross-boundary trade.  The Russians did not offer much of a 
response, saying only that they would uphold local residents' 
rights.  (Note: Before the war, the boundary was poorly 
defined and control was often not enforced, so that many 
locals crossed over to use holdings on the other side on a 
regular, even daily basis.  Even now, a great deal of 
confusion remains over the precise definition of the boundary 
in many places.  Even if the South Ossetians or Russians seek 
to impose a hermetic seal, they will face considerable 
difficulty in doing so, and detentions, confrontations, and 
occasional violence will likely occur.  Also, trade 
restrictions will likely harm South Ossetian villagers, who 
TBILISI 00001045  002 OF 003 
have no other realistic partners, more than those south of 
the boundary.  End note.) &#
4. (SBU) Haber raised another access issue -- the ability of 
locals to cross the boundary to visit cemeteries and 
religious sites.  Neither the Georgian nor the South Ossetian 
side expressed any objections to such visits.  The EUMM 
undertook to prepare a list of such sites and ultimately to 
facilitate such movements. 
5. (C) In an emotional appeal, Chigoev raised the specific 
case of three Ossetians who disappeared in October 2008, who 
the de facto authorities suspect were detained by Georgian 
authorities.  He went on to insist that the issue must be 
resolved before South Ossetia will participate in another 
session of the JIPRM.  (Note: The South Ossetians have raised 
this case frequently in the past, including with the EUMM and 
at the Geneva talks.  They did so at the most recent meeting 
on May 18-19, and EU Special Representative Pierre Morel 
suggested that this was exactly the kind of case that the 
JIPRM was designed to tackle.  Haber told his diplomatic 
colleague the EUMM was willing to conduct investigations into 
the case, including with the Georgian Ministry of Internal 
Affairs, but it had no executive authority to do much more 
than ask questions.  End note.)  In Steve Young's words, 
Rakviashvili then called Chigoev's bluff, saying that Georgia 
would be willing to allow a South Ossetian de facto 
delegation to visit the area where they believe the three 
were detained, if the South Ossetians would then be willing 
to allow a Georgian delegation into South Ossetia to 
investigate cases of concern on that side of the boundary. 
(Note: The Geneva-sourced document that establishes the JIPRM 
envisions, but does not mandate, just such joint visits -- 
see ref B.  End note.)  Chigoev refused the offer. 
6. (C) Chigoev also raised the issue of gas deliveries to 
Akhalgori and electricity deliveries to Akhalgori and 
Tskhinvali, complaining that the Georgian side had not yet 
delivered on its commitments to ensure steady deliveries into 
South Ossetia.  Although Rakviashvili suggested that the 
second Geneva working group was a more appropriate forum to 
discuss such issues (see refs C, D), Haber pushed back, 
saying that there was no reason for the JIPRM to limit itself 
to certain topics.  Regarding the gas question, Heyman noted 
that the South Ossetians themselves had not yet fulfilled the 
recommendation of the OSCE expert to install a second 
pressure gauge on the South Ossetian side in order to help 
track the deliveries more precisely. 
7. (C) The sides did not reach agreement on the chairmanship 
of the JIPRM.  The EUMM and OSCE's position is that they 
should serve as chairs, because they are the two Geneva 
co-chairs represented in the JIPRM, which itself derived from 
Geneva; Georgia supports this position.  Chigoev repeated 
South Ossetia's refusal to accept the OSCE as a co-chair and 
proposed instead the EUMM and Russia, arguing that the Geneva 
process itself derives from the ceasefire agreement and its 
implementing measures, of which EU and Russia are the 
"parties" (sic).  Furthermore, Chigoev stated that South 
Ossetia would not be able to participate in another JIPRM 
meeting until this issue is resolved. 
8. (C) Rakviashvili repeated Georgia's interest in holding 
JIPRM meetings on both sides of the boundary.  (Note: The 
Georgian position derives from their commitment to joint 
visits on both sides of the boundary; they believe that an 
Qvisits on both sides of the boundary; they believe that an 
inability to hold even JIPRM meetings on both sides 
undermines the principle of access, which is necessary for 
joint visits to incident locations.  End note.)  Chigoev, who 
did not object to the idea in principle on April 23 (ref A), 
expressed South Ossetia's objection to holding the meeting 
anywhere other than on the boundary.  Haber told his 
diplomatic colleagues that, in a private conversation in 
Geneva, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoriy Karasin told 
him that Russia agreed that confidence-building measures 
should take place on both sides, but that he was not the 
"foreign minister" of South Ossetia. 
9. (SBU) The parties agreed in principle to hold the next 
session on June 11 at Ditsi, on the administrative boundary. 
10. (C) Haber and his staff portrayed the second session of 
the JIPRM in a fairly rosy light, suggesting that finally the 
parties started to get down to the real issues the mechanism 
was designed to handle.  Steve Young was also guardedly 
optimistic, calling the meeting "interesting" in the positive 
TBILISI 00001045  003 OF 003 
sense of having elements that might hold promise for the 
future.  The issues raised are important ones, and further 
discussion could possibly lead to mutually acceptable 
solutions -- so in that sense, May 29 was indeed a step 
forward.  Based on South Ossetia's two preconditions for the 
next meeting, however -- a resolution of the three 
disappeared Ossetians and the chairmanship issue -- Post is 
less sanguine.  Despite Chigoev's emotion over the fate of 
the three missing, he would not consider Georgia's reasonable 
proposal -- provided for in the Geneva document establishing 
the JIPRM -- to implement a joint visit to investigate the 
incident.  It is clear that South Ossetia's attitude toward 
the JIPRM is colored first and foremost by status 
considerations and only secondarily by an interest in 
practical issues that directly affect the South Ossetian 
population.  His objection to cross-boundary trade, which 
would benefit South Ossetians more than anyone, reflects this 
same hierarchy of values.  The only conceivable venues for 
resolving either the disappearances or the chairmanship 
issues are the JIPRM itself and Geneva -- so unless South 
Ossetia backs away from its conditions, the JIPRM will not be 
meeting again anytime soon. 


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