Resumption of “illegal borderization” by the Russian occupying forces along the dividing line between Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and Georgia proper on April 17 prompted international reactions.
The Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions (GDI), UN Representative Cihan Sultanoğlu, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus Rudolf Michalka, and EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia Toivo Klaar released a press communiqué on April 18, calling on the GID participants “to set aside differences and to refrain from actions that could lead to increased tension.”
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GID Co-Chairs stated that resumption of “illegal borderization” near the village of Takhtisdziri of Kareli Municipality along the dividing line between Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and Georgia proper by Russian occupying forces “predictably contributes to a tense atmosphere on the ground and rids the local people of their livelihoods.”
In the face of the current global challenge of COVID-19, requiring joint approaches and co-operation amongst all, we hereby repeat our call on all participants to avoid provocative measures and focus on improving the situation of the conflict-affected population,” the GID Co-Chairs stated.
Urging all the GID participants “to set aside differences and to refrain from actions that could lead to increased tension,” they said “the focus should be on collaboration, for the good of all people in the region and against the common threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The U.S. Embassy to Georgia said they are “deeply troubled” by reports about resumed “aggressive ‘borderization’ activities” near the village of Takhtisdziri.
“We condemn any actions by the de facto authorities in Tskhinvali that aggravate tensions and distract from urgent efforts to safeguard the lives and health of the affected populations, particularly during the Orthodox Easter weekend and against the backdrop of the global pandemic crisis,” noted the U.S. Embassy.
The U.S. called for an immediate halt to the construction of any signs, structures, fencing, or barriers intended to strengthen or expand the illegal “borderization.” It also called on Russia “to end its illegal occupation of 20 percent of Georgian territory and fulfill its commitments under the 2008 ceasefire agreement.”
Slamming “further borderization” as completely unacceptable, Carl Hartzell, the EU Ambassador to Georgia, called on Russian and Tskhinvali security actors to refrain from taking the steps that could escalate the situation in the region.
Further “borderisation” from Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia is completely unacceptable. I call on South Ossetian and Russian security actors to immediately stop these activities and to refrain from any further steps that could escalate the situation.
— Carl Hartzell (@CarlHartzellEU) April 17, 2020
“Strongly condemns the actions of the Russian occupation regime of Tskhinvali,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stated that “such provocative actions ensure the achievement of the far-reaching plans of the Russian Federation to escalate regional tension, deteriorate the security and humanitarian situation on the occupied territory of Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia.”
“The deprivation of the Georgian population on the occupied territory of the right to move freely, to receive proper medical care, to have access to vital agricultural and water resources is an indisputable violation of international law and create additional threats against the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic throughout the world,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry added.
Estonian Foreign Ministry is also “very concerned” by further illegal “borderization” in Georgia. “Estonia urges the de facto authorities in Tskhinvali to put an end to these actions which clearly violate international law and stop aggravating the situation,” the Estonian Foreign Ministry tweeted.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has also reaffirmed Lithuania’s support to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “For Russia coronavirus is serving as a smokescreen for further ‘borderization’. We strongly condemn militarization along the occupation line of Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia,” Minister Linkevičius tweeted.