1374th Meeting of the Committee of Ministers (22 April 2020) - EU Statement on the Secretary General's 21st consolidated report on the conflict in Georgia
Brussels, 22/04/2020 - 11:59, UNIQUE ID: 200422_4
The EU and its Members States welcome the Secretary General’s twenty-first consolidated report on the conflict in Georgia. The EU considers it important to keep this issue high on the political agenda of the Council of Europe 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 expresses its regret that no progress has been made to implement the Deputies’ decisions on the conflict in Georgia, including that of 2 May 2019, and calls for their implementation without further delay.
The EU reaffirms its firm support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. The EU remains highly committed to supporting peace building and conflict resolution in Georgia, including through its co-chairmanship of the Geneva International Discussions, the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia and the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) on the ground. 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, including the Council of Europe Action Plan for Georgia 2020-2023.
The EU, in line with its policy of non-recognition and engagement vis-à-vis the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, does not recognise the constitutional and legal framework in which the so-called “presidential elections” held in Georgia’s Abkhazia region on 22 March 2020 took place.
The EU reiterates its condemnation of the targeted cyberattack on Georgia on 28 October 2019 as well as its commitment to support the strengthening of Georgia's resilience against cyberattacks.
The EU expresses its grave concern about the continuous deterioration of the human rights and security situation in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Serious security challenges in the Chorchana-Tsnelisi area are particularly worrying.
The EU remains profoundly concerned by the lack of progress and reports of ongoing violations of human rights in other areas, including arbitrary detentions, the illegal detention of Mr Vazha Gaprindashvili being one of the examples of this practice.
The EU is deeply concerned by the impunity surrounding grave human rights violations in conflict-affected areas, which continue to undermine human security and more broadly the climate of trust. 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 served.
The EU remains deeply concerned over the obstacles to freedom of movement, in connection with restrictions to crossings and closures of crossing points on the administrative boundary lines (ABLs). This has created an extremely difficult humanitarian situation for the local population, especially for students and persons in need for medical assistance. Together with the other Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions (GID), the EU calls for the immediate re-opening of all crossing points on the ABL with South Ossetia and the lifting of restrictions on crossings at the ABL with Abkhazia, and especially to allow for medical crossings. The EU also supports the statement of the GID Co-Chairs, in which they called for “greater cooperation across dividing lines” amid the COVID-19
Unprecedented restrictions on freedom of movement, on-going installation of razor and barbed wire fences and other artificial barriers on residents’ property, dividing families and communities also result in increased isolation and impoverishment, which could in turn lead to further displacement. The EU regrets the failure to address the issues of refugees and internally displaced persons in the Geneva International Discussions.
The EU is also concerned about the documentation gap and further restrictions on access to services and education in one’s native language in both entities. We call on the de facto authorities of Georgia's Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions to ensure that residents are not deprived of any basic rights, such as the right to life, liberty and security, the freedom of movement and property rights, as well as access to public services, education in native language and economic activities, and are not subject to discrimination on any, including ethnic, grounds.
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 and to resume fully the regular IPRM meetings in Ergneti without delay and any pre-conditions.
The EU encourages and strongly supports all initiatives aimed at building bridges across the ABLs and addressing humanitarian challenges, all ongoing and planned confidence-building activities of the Council of Europe, as well as the Georgian Peace Initiative “A Step to a Better Future”, aimed at facilitating trade, education and mobility across the ABLs.
The EU reiterates its concern about the continuing Russian illegal military presence 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.
The EU calls upon the Russian Federation to fully implement the 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement and the Implementing Measures of 8 September 2008. Furthermore, the EU urges the Russian Federation to provide the EU Monitoring Mission with access to the whole territory of Georgia.
The EU deeply regrets that the delegation of the Secretariat, the monitoring bodies and the Council of Europe 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 Council of Europe.
The following countries align with this statement: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, San Marino and Ukraine.