The EU said it is important that the CoE keeps the conflict in Georgia high on its agenda, and encouraged the Secretary General to continue submitting such reports. It also expressed regret that “no progress has been made to implement the Deputies’ decision on the conflict in Georgia,” including the latest one, adopted October 21, 2020.
The 27-member bloc reiterated “grave concern” on the continued Russian military presence in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, also calling for “proper follow-up” to the January 2021 ECHR ruling into the 2008 Russo-Georgian war case, which found Russia “violated several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Deploring “the continuous deterioration of the human rights and security situation” in the occupied regions, the EU also called for the immediate reopening of the crossing points along the dividing lines with Georgia proper, and for the release of Georgian citizens arbitrarily detained by the Kremlin-backed authorities, including Zaza Gakheladze.
Noting that although “efforts from both sides were made” to mitigate pandemic-related restrictions to crossings from Abkhazia, the statement stressed the urgent need for increased cooperation, demonstrated by the recent drowning of four Gali residents attempting to enter Georgia proper via the Enguri river.
Some other concerns the 27-member bloc highlighted included discrimination against ethnic Georgians in both regions, restrictions on the rights of residence, work, and property, as well as the lack of access to education in the Georgian language, and an absence of progress regarding the return of internally displaced persons to their homes.
“We regret once again that monitoring bodies of the Council of Europe and its Human Rights Commissioner have not been granted access to the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” the statement added.