06MOSCOW12347, RUSSIAN MFA ON TALKS WITH GEORGIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW12347 2006-11-07 15:30 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2168
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #2347/01 3111530
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 071530Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5005
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 012347 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/07/2016 
TAGS: PREL MARR GG RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN MFA ON TALKS WITH GEORGIA 
 
REF: MOSCOW 12257 
 
Classified By: PolMinCouns Alice Wells.  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C) The Russian MFA was disappointed that Georgian FM 
Bezhuashvili brought no deliverables with him to his November 
1-2 talks in Moscow.  The Russians are hearing rumors of a 
major cabinet reshuffle in Tbilisi.  Proposed talks between 
President Saakashvili and South Ossetian leader Kokoity are 
stymied by disagreement on venue.  The Russian negotiator 
suspects Saakashvili proposed these talks as part of a plan 
to create a "South Ossetian Government in Exile" -- which 
would provoke a Russian response.  End Summary. 
 
"Disappointment" 
---------------- 
 
2. (C) Russian MFA negotiator for South Ossetia Amb. Yuriy 
Popov told us November 7 that the MFA was "disappointed" by 
talks with Georgian FM Bezhuashvili (reftel).  The Russians 
had expected some "steps" from the Georgians that might 
provide the basis for relaxing sanctions Russia has imposed 
on Georgia.  Before the visit, the Georgian MFA had asked the 
Russian Charge in Tbilisi what steps might be effective with 
the Russians.  The Charge had replied that it was up to the 
Georgians to come up with steps.  In the event, Bezhuashvili 
had no deliverables, and, Popov said, the MFA believed there 
was no common ground.  We briefed Popov on our understanding 
of the talks, including Bezhuashvili's assurance that Georgia 
planned no military actions in South Ossetia or Abkhazia, and 
his request for assurances that Russia would not recognize 
either of the separatist entities. 
 
3. (C) Popov said he had met with Georgian Minister for 
Conflict Resolution Antadze after the latter's one-on-one 
meeting with DFM Denisov November 2.  He said Antadze, who 
had said nothing during Bezhuashvili's meeting with Lavrov, 
seemed "insecure" about his position, amid rumors of a 
cabinet reshuffle.  (Later, Popov mentioned that media 
reports hint that DefMin Okruashvili might be out in a 
reshuffle.  Popov hoped this was the case, but doubted 
Okruashvili could be jettisoned without a fight.  Popov noted 
that we are rapidly approaching the New Year, which 
Okruashvili promised to greet in Tskhinvali.) 
 
South Ossetia/Abkhaz Talks:  All a Trick? 
----------------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) Popov discussed with Antadze the possibility of a 
Saakashvili-Kokoity meeting.  Initially, Saakashvili had 
proposed a meeting at the Georgian ski resort of Bakuriani. 
Kokoity refused on grounds that about 1000 Ossetians had been 
expelled from that region during the 1992 war.  Kokoity 
proposed Sochi (with Putin presiding); the Georgians rejected 
a Russian venue.  The OSCE proposed a western European 
meeting -- Brussels or Vienna -- and Popov said de Gucht's 
special representative Chevalier told him that both the 
Georgians and Ossetians rejected this.  Popov said there were 
now thoughts of a tripartite meeting among Saakashvili, 
Kokoity and Bagapsh -- but there was no progress on finding a 
venue acceptable to all. 
 
5. (C) Popov said he suspected a plot by Saakashvili in 
proposing to meet with Kokoity.  November 12 would see not 
one referendum/election but two:  one held by the Tskhinvali 
authorities, the other an "alternative," pro-Georgian 
referendum and election.  Saakashvili could use an 
unproductive meeting with Kokoity (or a failure to hold a 
meeting) as an excuse for recognizing the "alternative" 
government.  Popov believed this would lead to confrontations 
in South Ossetia.  He warned that this would give impulse to 
"hotheads" in Russia to push for recognition of the 
Tskhinvali authorities. 
 
SIPDIS 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
6. (C) Finding the venue for a Saakashvili-Kokoity (or 
Saakashvili-Kokoity-Bagapsh) meeting is dependent only on the 
political will to hold such a meeting.  Popov seemed to be 
interested in our suggestion of Baku or Yerevan, but his body 
language implied both that his superiors insist on a 
Putin-led meeting in Russia -- and that Popov recognizes this 
as a non-starter. 
 
7. (C) Creating a new "Ossetian Government in Exile" would, 
as Popov implied, set the Russians off -- much as the 
Georgian deployment of the "Abkhazian Government in Exile" to 
Kodori did.  Such a move would further set back hopes for 
 
MOSCOW 00012347  002 OF 002 
 
 
normalization between Georgia and Russia. 
BURNS

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