20 June 2021,   05:18
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Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to mention term occupation in its decision on Georgia

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe took its eighth decision on Georgia on May 12. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs David Zalkaliani, the decision is unprecedented.

“The decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is unprecedented, as it introduces the term occupation at the executive level for the first time.

“Our main priority is to make the Russian-Georgian conflict issue real in the international arena and mobilize the support of the international community. We have another important success in this direction. The CoE Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg has adopted a decision on Georgia. We have been adopting such documents within this organization every year since 2014. But the decision is unprecedented this year as the term occupation has been introduced at the executive level for the first time.

Besides, the Committee welcomed the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the Georgia v. Russia 2008 war case that established the responsibility of the Russian Federation for grave human rights violations during the occupation of the Georgian Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region following the August 2008 war”, - said the Minister.

According to the decision, the Committee:
Reiterated the unequivocal support of the Council of Europe member States for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders;

Stated that, more than twelve years after the armed conflict between the Russian Federation and Georgia, the Russian Federation continues to impede the peaceful conflict resolution process and to undermine the security and stability in the wider region through its continuing military presence in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, increased military exercises and infrastructure reinforcements, including the new positions and fences being established in the Chorchana/Tsnelisi area, the implementation of the so-called treaties on alliance and strategic partnership/integration, incorporation of illegal military units of the Tskhinvali region of Georgia into the armed forces of the Russian Federation, the creation of a so-called “joint group of armed forces” in the Abkhazia region, the establishment of so-called “joint information and co-ordination centres of law enforcement agencies”, the functioning of so-called “customs points” in both Georgian regions, aimed at the integration of these regions respectively into the customs sphere of the Russian Federation, as well as the adoption of the so-called programme on the creation of a common socio-economic space between Russia and the Abkhazia region of Georgia; reiterated that any illegal acts by the Russian Federation aimed at changing the status of the Georgian regions, including through issuing Russian passports and so-called “residents’ permits”, thus establishing a so-called “status of foreign residents”, have no legal effect and further aggravate the situation on the ground; called upon the Russian Federation to stop and reverse this illegal process and to comply with its international obligations and commitments, including under the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, in particular with regard to the withdrawal of military and security forces from the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and allowing the establishment of international security mechanisms on the ground;

Welcomed the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case Georgia v. Russia (II) that established the responsibility of the Russian Federation for grave human rights violations during the period of occupation of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia following the August 2008 war, as the State exercising effective control over those regions, including the killing, torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary detention of Georgian civilians and military personnel; the looting and burning of Georgian homes ; the inhuman treatment of Georgians targeted as an ethnic group; and deprivation of the right of IDPs and refugees to return to their homes;

Stated that Georgia, as the only sovereign State under international law over its regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, is still prevented from exercising its legitimate jurisdiction over these regions due to the continuous impediments put up by the Russian Federation, including the latter’s continuing military presence therein;

Deeply regretted that, despite constant calls upon the Russian Federation to reverse this process, it continues to install razor and barbed wire fences and other artificial obstacles along the administrative boundary lines (ABLs), divide families and communities, violate human rights and fundamental freedoms and impede the settlement of the conflict;

Expressed grave concern about the lengthy closure of “crossing points” in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, even during the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to severe humanitarian consequences for the local population;

Expressed further profound concern that the human rights situation in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia has been further deteriorating, including concerns with regard to violations of the right to life, the right to freedom of movement, the right to health, the right to property, the right to education in the native language and the right to liberty and security;

Expressed particular concern over the intensified discrimination of Georgians on the grounds of ethnicity in both Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, particularly in the Gali and Akhalgori districts, through further restrictions to freedom of movement, residence rights, the right to work and property rights in cases of forced registration as foreign residents or demands to change surnames and ethnic identity;

Expressed deep concern over the demolition of the homes of Georgian IDPs in the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, in violation of the property rights of IDPs;

Expressed grave concern over the continued arbitrary detentions of local inhabitants along the administrative boundary lines (ABLs);

Expressed grave concern over the decision to prolong for more than twelve years the illegal detention of Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze, who was shot and wounded during his detention;

Recalled the “Otkhozaria-Tatunashvili List” adopted by the Parliament of Georgia, and the national restrictive measures decided on by the Georgian Government against those responsible for grave human rights abuses in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.

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