The Group of Friends of Georgia to the OSCE Permanent Council, including Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine, the UK and the U.S. reaffirmed their full support to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in their joint statement of August 12, delivered on the 13th anniversary of the Russo-Georgian War of August 2008.
The Group of Friends said they remain deeply concerned over the continued occupation of two Georgian regions by Russia and underline the need for the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The statement called on Russia to fulfill 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement, including by withdrawing its forces to pre-conflict positions, and also called on Moscow to reverse its recognition of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions.
The Group of Friends condemned Russia’s steps to unilaterally establish the Georgia-Russia state border on the segments of the occupied territories and incorporate a part of Abkhazia’s Aibgha village into Krasnodar Krai and urged Russia to reverse the process.
“We are concerned over the ethnic discrimination against Georgians residing in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions and human rights abuses,” the statement continued, adding that “the tragic deaths of civilians due to the closures of the so-called crossing points is an illustration of the grave consequences of the continuing restrictions on the freedom of movement for the local population.”
The Group of Friends further noted they remain deeply concerned by ongoing arbitrary detentions around the occupation lines. It also condemned the killing of Georgian citizens Archil Tatunashvili, Giga Otkhozoria, and Davit Basharuli, and urged Russia to remove any obstacles to bringing the perpetrators to justice.
The statement expressed support for the Geneva International Discussions platform, the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs) in Ergneti and Gali, and reaffirmed unwavering support for the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM).
The Group of Friends also said they regret the closure of the OSCE mission to Georgia in 2009 and encouraged the OSCE participating States to decide on the reopening of the OSCE cross-dimensional mission in Georgia.