EU Statement on the Secretary General's 23rd consolidated report on the conflict in Georgia
Brussels, 14/04/2021 - 11:35, UNIQUE ID: 210414_7
Statements on behalf of the EU
1401st Meeting of the Committee of Ministers on 14 April 2021
The European Union and its Members States welcome the Secretary General’s twenty-third consolidated report on the conflict in Georgia. The EU considers it importantto 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 deep regret that no progress has been made to implement the Deputies’ decisions on the conflict in Georgia, including the latest one adopted on 21 October 2020, and calls for their implementation without further delay.
The EU reiterates its grave concern about the continuing Russian illegal military presence in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We highlight the landmark judgement by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered on 21 January in the inter-State case Georgia v. Russian Federation. The ruling clearlyconcludes that after 12 August 2008 the Russian Federation, exercising effective control over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, violated several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The EU reiterates its call upon the Russian Federation to ensure proper follow-up of the ruling, including, as foreseen in the ruling itself, through an adequate and effective investigation not only into the events which had occurred after the cessation of hostilities (following the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008) but also into the events which had occurred during the active phase of hostilities (8 to 12 August 2008), and to hold all those responsible for human rights violations accountable.
The EU deplores the continuous deterioration of the human rights and security situation in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The ongoing violations of the freedom of movement, including through the unprecedented, prolonged closure of the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) “crossing points”, severely affect the security, safety and well-being of the local population, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EU calls for the immediate reopening of the “crossing points”, as well as for the release of all those illegally detained along the ABLs without delay, including illegally sentenced Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze. In the Abkhaz context, efforts from both sides were made to mitigate COVID-19 related restrictions to crossings. The most recent tragic events on 7 April when four lives were lost during an attempt to cross the Enguri river once more demonstrate the urgent need for increased cooperation.
The EU denounces ongoing discrimination of Georgians on the grounds of ethnicity in both Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We remain concerned about the documentation gap and related restrictions on freedom of movement, residence rights, work and property rights, as well as access to services and education in one’s native language in both entities, further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We welcome the efforts of the Georgian central government to assist the affected population as much as possible by making available free access to health care, education and other social benefits for all residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Tensions in the Chorchana-Tsnelisi area continue to be worrying. We deplore ongoing "borderisation" activities along the ABL– installation of barbed-wire fences, artificial barriers and surveillance equipment, and refurbishing of existing structures – and urge to discontinue them immediately. The EU also condemns the implementation of the so-called “treaties” and deriving agreements.
The EU remains deeply concerned by the impunity surrounding grave human rights violations in conflict-affected areas, which continue to undermine human security. 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 deeply regrets that no progress could be reported regarding voluntary, safe, dignified and unhindered return of internally displaced persons and refugees on the basis of internationally recognized principles.
The EU remains highly committed to supporting peace building and conflict resolution in Georgia. The Geneva International Discussions (GID) remain the key international platform in this regard. We will continue our engagement in the GID, as well as the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs) and through the work of the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM), which remains – 12 years after the end of the Russia-Georgia war – the only international presence on the ground. The EU will also continue to support 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 welcomes the 51st and 52nd round of GID in-person meetings and the meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) in Ergneti on 5 March 2021. We call for the resumption of the regular meetings of the IPRM in Gali without further delay and any pre-conditions.
The EU continues to encourage all initiatives aimed at building bridges across the ABLs and addressing humanitarian challenges, as well as all ongoing and planned confidence-building activities of the Council of Europe.
We regret once again that monitoring bodies of the Council of Europe and its Human Rights Commissioner have not been granted access to the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
In conclusion, we reiterate our unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. We once again urge Russia to fulfil its obligations under the EU-mediated ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 and its subsequent implementing measures of 8 September 2008.
The following countries align with this statement: Albania, Andorra, Georgia, Liechtenstein, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Norway, San Marino, Turkey and Ukraine