During the 1344th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies on April 24, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland presented his 19th consolidated report on the conflict in Georgia, which covers the period from October 2018 – March 2019 and takes stock of the security and human rights situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.
The CoE Secretary General said in the report that “despite continued efforts, the Secretariat was not given authorisation to visit Abkhazia and South Ossetia for the purpose of this consolidated report.” As a result, the Secretariat “had no opportunity to assess the human rights situation on the ground.”
Consequently, the information presented in the document is based on the previous consolidated reports, as well as the CoE Secretariat delegation’s discussions with the Georgian authorities, the Public Defender as well as representatives of international organizations.
The overall security situation on the ground, the document says, was assessed by the participants of the Geneva International Discussions (GID) as “relatively calm and stable.” However, “in general the number and the frequency of military exercises in the region had regrettably increased.”
Moreover, according to the report, “humanitarian and human rights’ situation in conflict-affected regions had further worsened, mainly due to increased restrictions on freedom of movement.”
In this regard, the report, among others, refers to the closure of crossing points connecting both regions with the rest of Georgia, “borderization” near Tskhinvali region as well as the death of a Georgian citizen Irakli Kvaratskhelia, who died under unclear circumstances in Abkhazia.
According to the Secretary General, the government supports “actions and steps beneficial for building trust and direct contacts between divided communities,” and that they “continued to provide humanitarian and medical assistance to residents in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”
In Abkhazia, “the security situation on the ground has remained relatively stable,” according to the assessments by the GID participants. However, “borderization” activities “continued during the period under review resulting in new earth berms and installation of surveillance cameras.”
Thorbjorn Jagland also notes in the report that “crossings outside the ‘authorised’ points and/or due to lack of valid documents continued to result in detentions,” and that “the documentation gap continued to have an adverse impact on the status and effective enjoyment of rights of the ethnic Georgian population” living in Gali, Ochamchire and Tkvarcheli.
Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia
The security situation in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia “remained relatively stable during the reporting period.” But at the same time, the document says, “security observers were cautious in relation to the occurrence of military activities affecting security perceptions such as violation of airspace controlled by the Georgian central government.”
The report also touches upon the introduction of new regulations for ethnic Georgian population to cross the occupation line. It also notes that “alleged violations of the ‘border’ regime by the local population keep resulting in ‘detentions’ raising major issues from a humanitarian and human rights perspective.”
Welcome Secretary General’s Consolidated Report on Conflict in Georgia highlighting the difficult human rights situation in Georgia’s occupied territories. EU expresses its deep concern over Russia’s illegal military presence and infrastructure reinforcements on the ground.
— MFA of Georgia (@MFAgovge) April 25, 2019
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia welcomed the Secretary General’s 19th consolidated report, as well as the statements of the European Union, GUAM and other partners concerning the report, and expressed its hope that the issue would remain on the CoE agenda in the future as well.