The European Union Delegation to the Council of Europe issues the following statement in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission to the Council of Europe.
1. The EU welcomes the Secretary General’s nineteenth 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.
2. The EU reaffirms its firm support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.
3. The EU expresses its deep concern about the state of play and continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 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 (EUMM) on the ground.
4. The EU expresses its regret that no progress has been made to implement the Deputies’ decisions on the conflict in Georgia, including that of 2 May 2018.
5. The EU is deeply concerned over continued obstacles to freedom of movement, in particular in connection with restrictions to crossings and closures of crossing points for an unprecedented period in January/February 2019, which has created an extremely difficult humanitarian situation for the local population, while hampering people-to-people contacts.
6. The EU is particularly concerned about the further measures undertaken by the de facto authorities that deepen the documentation gap. The EU calls on the de facto authorities to ensure that residents of the Georgian regions concerned are not deprived of any basic rights, such as the freedom of movement, access to public services and economic activities, and property rights, and are not subject to discrimination on any, including ethnic, grounds.
7. The EU is deeply concerned by the impunity surrounding grave human rights violations in conflict-affected areas. The EU reiterates its call for a proper investigation into the tragic deaths of Georgian nationals Archil Tatunashvili, Giga Otkhozoria and Irakli Kvaratskhelia and for justice to be applied.
8. The EU remains particularly concerned about the lack of progress and reports of ongoing violations of human rights in other areas, including arbitrary detentions, increased restrictions on freedom of movement, restrictions on access to education in one’s native language in both entities and violations of property rights.
9. The EU regrets the continued refusal by Russia and participants from Tskhinvali and Sukhumi to engage on the topic of refugees and displaced persons in the Geneva International Discussions. The EU recalls that this topic is at the core of the mandate of the Geneva International Discussions.
10. The EU strongly supports the calls by the Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions to resume the regular meetings of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) in Gali without delay and any pre-conditions.
11. The EU welcomes the Georgian Government policy “Step to a better future” that can benefit the citizens across the Administrative Boundary Lines (ABLs) by facilitating trade, education and mobility. We support all initiatives aimed at building bridges across the ABLs and addressing humanitarian challenges.
12. 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 and human rights protection, development and other co-operation actions in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in partnership also with international and local NGOs.
13. The EU reiterates its concern about the continuing Russian illegal military presence, increased military exercises, infrastructure reinforcements and "borderization" activities in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The EU condemns the implementation of the so-called treaties and deriving agreements.
14. The EU calls on the Russian Federation to fully implement the agreement of 12 August 2008 and the Implementing Measures of 8 September 2008, and to provide the EU Monitoring Mission with access to the whole territory of Georgia.
15. 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 South Ossetia and calls on the authorities exercising effective control to facilitate access to these regions for the relevant bodies of the CoE.
The following countries align with this statement: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Norway, San Marino, Turkey, Ukraine.