In OSCE, Georgian FM Slams Moscow’s Aggressive Policy Against Tbilisi, Kyiv

“Unity of strategy and approach of the international community towards Russia is critical,” Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani told his counterparts today, at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Stockholm.

“We need to send a clear message that infringement of the norms of international law is unacceptable and its aggressive policy shall be reversed,” said the top Georgian diplomat, adding “there is no other way for sustainable peace and stability in the region.”

FM Zalkaliani delivered the remarks during the plenary session of the December 2-3 OSCE Ministerial in Sweden. Arriving in Stockholm earlier in the day, the chief Georgian diplomat also held a series of meetings on the margins of the ministerial.

The Georgian Foreign Minister dedicated much of his eight-minute-long address to the Ministerial to criticizing Moscow’s aggressive policies toward Georgia and Ukraine, including to voice concern over humanitarian consequences of the Russian occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.

“We condemn increasing hostile rhetoric and intensified military activities near its border with Ukraine and call Russia to cease it immediately,” stated the top diplomat, reiterating support to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and decrying Moscow’s “attempts to forcibly withdraw the borders in Europe.”

Noting Georgia was one of the first victims of Moscow’s “wider hybrid warfare agenda,” FM Zalkaliani said with its actions, “Russia not only targets individual states, but the whole European security architecture.”

The Georgian FM brought his colleague’s attention to Moscow’s continued refusal to implement the EU-mediated 2008 ceasefire agreement with Tbilisi. He said Russia continues its military build-up in the occupied regions, raises barbed wire fences along the occupation lines and takes steps directed at “de-facto annexation” of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region.

FM Zalkaliani also drew attention to the detention of Gali Georgian Irakli Bebua in Abkhazia and the case of Genadi Bestaev, an arbitrarily detained Georgian citizen who was eventually transferred from Tskhinvali custody to Georgia proper after suffering from a stroke.

“Without decisive steps many more fear the same fate or even fear for their lives,” the chief Georgian diplomat noted.

Meanwhile, he highlighted that Georgia remains committed to its peace policy, including through proposals to hold talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as policies targeted at reconciliation with the Russian-occupied regions.

Meetings at the sidelines of the ministerial

The Georgian Foreign Minister had a brief exchange of views ahead of the plenary session with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. FM Zalkaliani said he “once again highlighted the Georgia-U.S. strategic partnership” and reiterated readiness to work for enhancing the cooperation further.

FM Zalkaliani also met Austrian counterpart Michael Linhart to discuss economic partnerships and recently intensified relations between the two countries, as reported by the Georgian Foreign Ministry.

The Austrian Foreign Minister tweeted that they also discussed the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Georgia’s reform path and cooperation with the EU.

Also on December 2, FM Zalkaliani presided over the 38th meeting of the Foreign Ministers Council of GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development, which Georgia chaired in 2021. The meeting was attended by FM Zalkaliani’s counterparts from GUAM countries – Dmytro Kuleba from Ukraine, Nicu Popescu from Moldova and Jeyhun Bayramov from Azerbaijan.

The Ministers discussed the prospects for developing cooperation within the political, inter-parliamentary, sectoral, as well as GUAM+ formats, Georgian Foreign Ministry’s press service reported.

Minister Zalkaliani stressed the importance of enhancing GUAM member states’ coordination of their work in international organizations.

The conversation also focused on the security challenges in the region, with FM Zalkaliani briefing the participants about the situation in Georgia’s occupied regions, highlighting human rights violations by Russia and the grave humanitarian situation on the ground.

“Regional cooperation is essential in tackling common challenges and can help re-energize our economies,” said FM Popescu, pledging to continue efforts to boost GUAM cooperation during Moldova’s chairpersonship in 2022.

Earlier on December 2, the Georgian top diplomat met NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoană, discussing the NATO Foreign Ministerial in Riga and its results.

Minister Zalkaliani briefed the NATO Deputy Secretary-General on the package of proposals developed by Georgia on its path to NATO integration and stressed Georgia’s active involvement in developing the 2030 NATO strategy, as reported by the Georgian Foreign Ministry.

According to the same report, the Deputy Secretary-General positively assessed reforms carried out by Georgia and expressed NATO’s readiness to strengthen partnership with Georgia.

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