The European Union and its member states issued a statement on April 23 welcoming the release of the twenty-first consolidated report on the conflict in Georgia filed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE), an intergovernmental human rights organization.
The EU underlined the importance of “keeping this issue [conflict in Georgia] high” on the political agenda of the CoE, and appealed to the Secretary General to draw up reports covering “the question of human rights protection in the areas affected by the conflict in Georgia.”
The European Union expressed regret that “no progress had been made to implement the Deputies’ [an administrative body comprised of permanent representatives of the CoE Committee of Ministers] decision on the conflict in Georgia,” and called for their prompt implementation by relevant parties.
In the statement, the EU reiterated its “firm support” for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its “internationally recognized borders.” It also reaffirmed commitment to fostering peace building and conflict resolution in Georgia, including through “co-chairmanship of the Geneva International Discussions (GID), the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia and the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) on the ground [operating in Georgia].”
The EU pledged to continue supporting a wide array of actions aimed at humanitarian causes, human rights protection, development and cooperation in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, including within the framework of the Coe Action Plan for Georgia 2020-2023.
“In line with [the] policy of non-recognition and engagement” vis-à-vis Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, the 27-member union stated it did not recognize “the constitutional and legal framework in which the so-called presidential elections held in Georgia’s Abkhazia region” had been conducted on March 22, 2020.
The EU reiterated its condemnation of the cyberattack that had targeted Georgia and its willingness to help enhance Georgia’s resilience against such attacks.
The European Union raised concerns over the “continuous deterioration of human rights and security situation” in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region. It singled out “security challenges” in the Chorchana-Tsnelisi area as “particularly worrying.”
The EU voiced “profound concern” regarding “the impunity surrounding grave human violations” in conflict-ridden areas, which continue to “undermine” human security and, more broadly, “the climate of trust.” It further reiterated appeal for “proper” inquiry into the “tragic deaths” of Georgian nationals Archil Tatunashvili, Giga Otkhozoria, and Irakli Kvaratskhelia and for “justice to be served.”
The European Union expressed “deep concerns” over the obstacles to freedom of movement with regard to restrictions to crossing [the dividing line] and closures of crossing points on the dividing lines. “This has created an extremely difficult humanitarian situation for the local population, especially for students and persons in need for medical assistance,” it stated.
Along with the Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions, the EU called for “immediate” reopening of all crossing points connecting Georgia proper with occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region.
The EU slammed the “unprecedented restrictions on freedom of movement” by means of “ongoing installations of razor and barbed wire fences and other artificial barriers on residents’ property, dividing families and communities,” resulting in “increased isolation and impoverishment,” which, in turn, could lead to further displacement of these conflict-affected individuals. It also expressed regret over the failure to address the issues of refugees and internally displaced persons within the framework of the GID.
The EU raised concerns about the “documentation gap and further restrictions on access to services and education in one’s native language” that occur in both occupied regions. It called on the Moscow-backed authorities of Abkhazia and Tkshinvali Region 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 that they [residents] are not subject to discrimination “on any, including ethnic grounds.”
The European Union expressed strong support towards the calls by the Co-Chairs of the GID to “resume regular meetings of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM)” in occupied Gali district and “to fully resume” the regular IPRM meetings in Ergneti “without delay and any preconditions.”
The European Union endorsed “all initiatives aimed at building bridges” across the dividing lines and “addressing humanitarian challenges,” and all ongoing and planned confidence building activities conducted by the CoE, as well as Georgian government’s peace initiative “A Step to a Better Future,” which envisages facilitating trade, education and mobility across the dividing lines.
The EU reiterated its concern over the “continuing Russian illegal military presence and borderization activities” on Georgian soil. It further condemned implementation of “treaties and deriving agreements” between the Russian Federation and the Moscow-supported authorities.
Concluding the statement, the EU called upon Russia to “fully implement” the 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement, as well as “measures of 8 September 2008.” Furthermore, it urged Russia to provide the EUMM with “access to the whole territory of Georgia.”
The EU “deeply regretted” that CoE Secretariat’s delegation, the monitoring bodies and the CoE Human Rights Commissioner had been declined access to occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali and called on “the authorities exercising effective control to facilitate access to these regions for the relevant bodies of the CoE.”