The European Union is deeply concerned by the “state of play in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and for the continuous deterioration of the human rights situation in these regions,” the EU Delegation to the Council of Europe said in its statement on April 18.
The statement, delivered in response to the CoE Secretary General’s 17th consolidated report on the conflict in Georgia, has been agreed with the EU Heads of Mission to the Council of Europe and joined by representatives of Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Moldova, Macedonia, Turkey and Ukraine.
The European Union says in its statement that it is “particularly concerned” about obstacles to the freedom of movement, arbitrary detentions, ethnic-based discrimination, documentation gap for ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia, restrictions on access to education in native language, and violation of property rights of internally displaced persons.
18th April local EU Statement on the Secretary General’s 17th Consolidated report on the conflict in Georgia: "The EU expresses its deep concern about the state of play in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia"
— EU Delegation to CoE (@EUDELCoE) April 19, 2018
The EU also regrets “the continued refusal” by Russia and participants of the Geneva International Discussions from Tskhinvali and Sokhumi, to engage on the topic of refugees and displaced persons, which is “at the core of the mandate” of the Geneva talks, the continued boycott of which, “jeopardizes the entire dialogue mechanism.”
“The continuing Russian illegal military presence, increased military exercises and infrastructure reinforcements” in the two regions,” and intensification of the so-called borderization process, as well as the opening of a so-called customs points, are sources of concern as well, according to the statement.
The EU touched upon the case of Archil Tatunashvili, saying his death in Tskhinvali custody “may reflect a worrying trend.” “Impunity surrounding this fatal incident reminds of the Otkhozoria case in May 2016,” the statement said, adding that “such impunity has a major negative impact on human security.”
“Handing over the body of Mr Archil Tatunashvili to his relatives, which is a matter of human dignity, should not have taken almost one month and become a topic for negotiations,” the statement also reads.
The EU also noted that it remains “highly committed” to support peace building and conflict resolution in Georgia and welcomes the Georgian government’s new peace initiative, “that can benefit the citizens living on the both sides of the ABLs by facilitating trade, education and mobility.”