On December 3, Georgian Foreign Minister (FM) Davit Zalkaliani addressed the 27th OSCE Ministerial Council scheduled to take place in Tirana, Albania, but held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions.
In his remarks, Foreign Minister Zalkaliani said it is “alarming” to observe continued “destructive and aggressive actions in Georgia and Ukraine” by the Russian Federation, breaching the territorial integrity of states, and violating the EU-mediated August 12, 2008 ceasefire agreement.
As time passes, the security, humanitarian and human rights challenges emanating from the occupation are only increasing, while residents of occupied regions are virtually kept as hostages of these illegal policies.
According to the Georgian FM, “brutal killings of ethnic Georgians, illegal detentions have become a common practice in these regions,” as “erecting razor fences and other physical barriers along the occupation line between the war-torn communities continued, which dramatically affected the lives of local populations.”
Noting that Russia “has been further consolidating its military foothold in Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions,” FM Zalkaliani expressed concern over Moscow conducting Kavkaz-2020 military drills in the occupied territories.
Adoption of the so-called program on common social-economic space between Russia and occupied Abkhazia, region of Georgia, just a few days ago. is yet another manifestation of Russia’s attempts to fully incorporate Georgia’s indivisible regions into its military, political, economic and social systems.
“It is particularly concerning that the international security mechanisms and the human rights monitors, including the only international mission on the ground, the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM), are prevented to enter Georgia’s Russia-occupied territories and regions,” Georgian Foreign Minister went on, and praised the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) given Russia’s “continued provocations on the ground.”
The Georgian FM also focused on Russia’s “intensified hybrid warfare, disinformation and propaganda, as well as large-scale cyber attacks.” He said Moscow’s “propaganda machinery specifically targeted the Richard Lugar Center of Public Health Research, the laboratory that has been important in Georgia’s fight against COVID-19,” adding that “even the EUMM has become the subject of this disinformation campaign from Russia.”
In addition, FM Zalkaliani underscored that the Government of Georgia “has been providing humanitarian assistance to Abkhazia to mitigate the dire conditions of the local population” during the coronavirus pandemic, added, however, that access and assistance to Tskhinvali region, another Moscow-backed province, is denied as the region “remains fully isolated” from the rest of Georgia.