As we mark the date when the 51st round of the Geneva International Discussions (GID) was supposed to take place (31 March - 1 April 2020), we, the Co-Chairs of the GID (UN Representative Cihan Sultanoglu, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus Rudolf Michalka and EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia Toivo Klaar), remain fully engaged to help address the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic.
While we commend the efforts of health professionals and others who are working hard to stop the spread of COVID-19, we appeal to all GID participants to respond to the call by UN Secretary General António Guterres to put aside mistrust and animosity, avoid antagonistic rhetoric, and work together to reach out to the most vulnerable.
In particular, we urge all GID participants to do their utmost to protect vulnerable conflict-affected populations, especially women, men and children in areas facing particular isolation. These populations need assistance and must not be allowed to suffer even more. We are encouraged by some collaborative approaches that have already taken place, but more needs to be done to ensure that all people, regardless of where they happen to live or what language they may speak, have equal access to health care. While co-operation across dividing lines, under other circumstances, may be challenging, we appeal to all participants of the GID to set aside differences and ensure that all individuals have the best possible access to testing and treatment.
On behalf of our organizations, we reiterate our readiness to assist and are at the disposal of participants as we, together, address this global threat.