Georgia criticises Russia for not agreeing against force

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A Georgian delegation at talks with Russia criticised Moscow Friday for failing to match its pledge to not resort to the use of force in their dispute over breakaway regions.

The 15th round of talks since 2008, when the two countries fought a five-day war, opened amid heightened tensions after Tbilisi claimed to have uncovered a Moscow-backed bomb plot outside a private television station.

Georgian delegation head Giorgi Bokeria commended the mediators for their continued efforts to address the security arrangements and human right issues like the return of displaced people.

"But unfortunately we have the same pattern of the Russian Federation refusing to engage in real substantial discussion and refuse to pledge not to use force like Georgia did," he said.

The talks mediated by the United Nations, European Union and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe are meant to prevent another flare-up in violence over the Moscow-backed breakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

But like the last session in December, a key point of contention surrounded Russia's failure to match Georgia's pledge on the non-use of force.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on November 23 pledged before the European Parliament that his government would never use force to retake the Russian-backed rebel regions.

However, Georgians pointed out Moscow has refused to make the same commitment.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from Tbilisi's control during wars in the early 1990s after Georgia gained independence with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

But it was after the five-day 2008 war that Moscow recognised the two regions as independent states.

Session mediator Pierre Morel, who represents the EU, said that overall Friday's round of talks "appeared very positive."

He noted that the parties had been able to review what he described as "relatively calm" security situation on the ground.

They agreed to meet again in Geneva on June 7.

© 2011 AFP

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