On November 16, the Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions (GID) reported to the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna on the “conflict in Georgia”. In response to the Co-Chairs’ report, the EU, the US and the UK issued statements highlighting recent developments in the occupied territories, such as the killing of a Georgian citizen near the village of Kirbali on November 6 and the abduction of another citizen, borderization and Russia’s plans to build a permanent naval base in the town of Ochamchire in occupied Abkhazia, close to the occupation line.
European Union Statement
In response to the address by the Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions (GID), the European Union (EU) issued a statement at the OSCE Permanent Council urging Russia to make a clear statement on the non-use of force, accompanied by a verification mechanism, in order to enhance security, build confidence and pave the way for political dialogue. The EU emphasized that such a statement was already made on numerous occasions by Georgia.
The EU statement expressed regret that discussions on IDPs and refugees in Working Group 2 on Humanitarian Issues continue not to be possible due to the walkout of Russia, representatives of occupied Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region from the Working Group meetings.
The European Union expressed its concern about the continuing impact of the conflict on Georgia and the wider region and condemns the illegal Russian military presence in Georgia. The EU expressed concern about Russia’s attempts to integrate occupied Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, ongoing “borderization” activities, restrictions on movement, arbitrary detentions of Georgian citizens and reported plans for a permanent naval base in Abkhazia.
In the statement the EU reiterated its call on Russia “to grant international human rights mechanisms immediate access to the occupied regions of Georgia” and expressed its concern at the continuing human rights violations. The EU condemned the killing of a Georgian citizen by Russian occupation forces and the illegal arrest of another on 6 November and stressed that “It is imperative that such incidents as well as any further escalation are prevented, and perpetrators brought to justice”.
“The EU calls on Russia, as a party to this conflict, to recommit itself to respecting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and to fulfil its obligations under the Six-point Agreement and its subsequent Implementing Measures in full and without further delay. The EU also urges Russia to ensure the proper follow-up of the landmark judgement of 21 January 2021 of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Georgia vs Russia” reads the statement.
The EU reiterated its call for the resumption of the Incidents Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) in Gali as soon as possible, in accordance with established practices and without preconditions.
Address by Michael R. Carpenter, U.S. Head of Mission to the OSCE
U.S. Head of Mission to the OSCE, Michael R. Carpenter made an address during the meeting, noting: “The tragic case of Georgian citizen Tamaz Ginturi reminds us how Russia’s continued occupation of Georgia’s territory impacts the people of Georgia. On October 6, Mr. Ginturi visited a cemetery and a church near the village of Kirbali when Russia’s military forces opened fire on his car. He was shot dead by Russia’s occupation forces for driving in his own country. We condemn this killing”.
He also noted that Russia persists in fortifying the occupation lines that delineate its occupation of 20 per cent of Georgia’s territory, adding that Russia has an obligation under the international law to respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region are integral parts of Georgia. He also reiterated strong support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
The U.S. Head of Mission called on Russia to comply with its obligation under the EU-meditated 2008 ceasefire agreement to withdraw its forces to pre-conflict positions and to allow full humanitarian access to the occupied region, underscoring the ongoing suffering and hardship of the people in the conflict-affected areas.
Michael Carpenter said the United States welcomes the ongoing Ergneti-IPRM meetings and reaffirms insistence on the immediate resumption of the Gali IPRM without preconditions.
Address by UK Ambassador Neil Holland
Head of UK Delegation to the OSCE, Neil Holland noted that Georgia has been under continuous hybrid attack from Russia since the 2008 war, which saw the effective annexation of one-fifth of Georgian territory. He reiterated UK support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
“In the past 12 months, the hybrid tactics against Georgia have included the October announcement of the construction of a Russian Navy base in Abkhazia. This is a flagrant breach of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. On 6 November, an innocent Georgian civilian was murdered by Russian troops as he tried to visit a church near the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) in Tskhinvali region. We condemn this incident, the first civilian death since 2018” he stressed.
The Ambassador reiterated his call on Russia to reverse its recognition of the so-called independence of the occupied territories and end all practices aimed at creeping annexation, and welcomed initiatives by the Government of Georgia to promote reconciliation among the populations separated by the occupation line, and urged Russia not to obstruct these valuable peace-building and people-to-people contacts.
He concluded by reiterating his call on the Russian Federation to immediately comply with its obligation under the ceasefire agreement to withdraw its forces to pre-conflict positions, to fulfill its commitments to allow unhindered access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and to cease all borderization tactics.
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