OSCE Group of Friends Concerned Over Lengthy Closure of Abkhazia, Tskhinvali Crossing Points

On December 4, the OSCE Group of Friends of Georgia, including Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States, delivered a statement to the 27th OSCE Ministerial Council, expressing particular concern over the “borderization” across Georgia’s occupied territories and the lengthy closure of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali crossing points, depriving people of getting “prompt and adequate medical care.”

The statement highlighted violations of ethnic Georgians’ freedom of movement, residence and property in the Russian-occupied territories, as well as arbitrary detentions along the dividing line between the Tskhinvali Region and Georgia proper.

The Group of Friends urged Russia to “remove any obstacles” to bringing the perpetrators to justice in the deaths of Irakli Kvaratskhelia, Archil Tatunashvili, Giga Otkhozoria, and Davit Basharuli.

The statement condemned the recent approval of the “program” on the creation of common socio-economic space between occupied Abkhazia and Russia, calling it “another step toward de-facto annexation of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetian regions.”

The Group also reiterated “deep concerns over the increased Russian military exercises,” and military build-up in the occupied regions.

Reaffirming support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity “within its internationally recognized borders,” while denouncing the “continued occupation” of Georgian territories by Russia, the Group of Friends also underlined the necessity for the peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The statement called on Russia to fulfill its obligations under the EU-brokered ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008, withdraw its forces to pre-conflict positions and reverse its recognition of Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions as independent states. 

The signatory countries encouraged the OSCE’s engagement in the process of finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and called on the organization to reopen its mission in Georgia, that was closed in 2009.

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