1284th Meeting of the Committee of Ministers (19 April 2017)
EU Local Statement on
the Secretary General’s 15th Consolidated report on the conflict in Georgia
The EU welcomes the Secretary General’s, fifteenth consolidated report on the conflict in Georgia. The EU considers important to keep this issue high on the political agenda of the CoE and encourages the Secretary General to continue the submission of such reports covering, inter alia, the question of human rights protection in the areas affected by the conflict in Georgia.
The EU reaffirms its firm support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. The European Union does not recognize the constitutional and legal framework within which the so-called elections of 12th of March 2017 in Georgian region of Abkhazia have taken place. Also, the European Union does not recognize the decision by the de facto authorities in the Georgian region of Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia to conduct so-called “presidential elections” and an illegal “referendum” on changing the name of the Georgian region of Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia held on 9th April 2017.
The EU underlines the importance of a dialogue between the parties to the conflict. The EU remains highly committed to support peace-building and conflict resolution in Georgia, including through its co-chairmanship of the Geneva International Discussions and the EU Monitoring Mission on the ground.
The EU notes with approval that interested parties continue to engage in the Geneva International Discussions and that discussions continue within this frame on a draft joint statement on non-use of force. In this regard, a clear commitment by the Russian Federation on non-use of force is necessary. The EU strongly supports all ongoing and planned confidence-building activities of the CoE, which are complementary to the efforts of the Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions and which present unique opportunities to bring together civil society members of all parties involved.
The EU will continue to support a wide range of humanitarian, protection, development and other co-operation actions in the Georgian region of Abkhazia, in partnership also with international and local NGO, in particular through Confidence-Building and Response Mechanism. The EU calls for unimpeded humanitarian access to the Georgian region of Tskhinvali/South Ossetia, where similar actions are needed.
The EU is deeply concerned by the advancing implementation of the so-called treaties and deriving sub-agreements, including actions that combine Russian armed units and armed units of so-called authorities of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, that are detrimental to the efforts to strengthen security and stability in the region and violate Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, contradict principles of international law and the international commitments of the Russian Federation, including those undertaken within the CoE.
The human rights situation on the ground remains worrying. The closure of two crossing points along the Administrative Boundary Line of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia – Nabakevi and Meore Otobaia - which were used daily by hundreds of commuters is detrimental to the freedom of movement of the population, including school children, on both sides of the Administrative Boundary Line. Such a unilateral decision goes against commitments to work towards enhanced security and improved living conditions for the conflict-affected population. It increased the risk of incidents, especially detentions. The EU is concerned by actions that combine Russian armed units and armed units of so-called authorities of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
The EU calls on authorities exercising effective control to remove any impediment, restriction or limitation to the right of freedom of movement across the ABL, to prevent arbitrary detention of persons, including in the context of so called “illegal border crossing”, to prevent ethnic–based discrimination, to re-open crossing points and to investigate all allegations of crimes and human rights violations on the ground.
The EU expresses its concern at reports on a continuing deterioration of the access to education in the native language in the Georgian region of Abkhazia. We strongly believe that the right to education for everyone, including education in the native language should be guaranteed and applied in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia as well. We join the efforts of the Co-Chairs of Geneva International Discussions to promote understanding and respect for the universal right to education of the child.
We welcome that the Georgian Government continued to progress in ensuring durable solutions in terms of IDP reintegration, that support for socio-economic integration of IDPs has been increased under the new IDP Livelihood Action Plan, and that remaining difficulties with respect to access to drinking and irrigation water, heating and livelihoods, as well as access to social and medical infrastructure, were being addressed.
The EU reiterates its concern about the continuing Russian illegal military presence, increased military exercises and infrastructure reinforcements in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. The EU calls on the Russian Federation to fully implement the six-point ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 and the Implementing Measures of 8 September 2008, and to provide the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) with access to the Georgian regions.
The EU regrets that the delegation of the Secretariat, the monitoring bodies and the CoE Human Rights Commissioner have not been granted access to the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. The EU calls on the Russian Federation to facilitate access to the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia for the relevant bodies of the CoE as well as to its monitoring mission EUMM.
THE COUNTRIES: ALBANIA, ANDORRA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, GEORGIA, LICHTENSTEIN, NORWAY, MONACO, MONTENEGRO, REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, SAN MARINO, "THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA", TURKEY and UKRAINE ALIGN THEMSELVES WITH THIS STATEMENT.