Fourteen years have passed since Russia’s full-scale military aggression and the beginning of its invasion of Georgia’s territories. The Russian invasion of Georgia in August 2008 marked a more aggressive trend in Russia’s policy regarding its neighbouring countries and the European security architecture. As we are witnessing in Ukraine today, Russia has continued down this path.
We are resolute in our reaffirmation of Georgia’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. We deplore the continuous blatant violation of the territorial integrity of Georgia by the Russian Federation. We condemn Russia’s illegal invasion and continued military presence and exercising of control over Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, integral parts of Georgia, and its steps toward annexation of these Georgian regions.
We reiterate our condemnation of Russia’s continuous provocations, which go on in parallel with the Russian unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine – the continued military presence and military drills on Georgia’s territory, the enhanced so-called “borderisation” process, unlawful detentions and kidnappings of the local population, hindrance of freedom of movement and lengthy closures of so-called crossing points, discrimination against ethnic Georgians in Gali and Akhalgori districts, and prohibition on education in residents’ native language. We recall with regret the uninvestigated murders of Georgian citizens Davit Basharuli, Giga Otkhozoria and Archil Tatunashvili, whose perpetrators have not yet been brought to justice and held accountable.
We recall the judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on January 21, 2021, that has stated that given Russia is in effective control of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, it is responsible for grave human rights violations including the killing of civilians, torture of prisoners of war, inhumane and degrading treatment, preventing Georgians from returning to their homes, and failure to conduct investigations in to human rights violations. We further emphasize the decisions of the International Criminal Court of June 2022 to issue arrest warrants for war crimes committed during Russia’s invasion in 2008.
We remain deeply worried that in the past several years no international human rights monitoring mechanism has been granted unrestricted access to the regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. We therefore call for immediate unhindered access to be granted to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and other international and regional human rights mechanisms, as well as to the EU Monitoring Mission.
We recall the urgent need for unimpeded humanitarian access to all civilians in need. The conditions for a safe, voluntary, dignified and unhindered return of internally displaced people and refugees must be created.
We remain committed to the Geneva International Discussions (GID) and support the continued meetings of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs) as important formats to address the implementation of the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, as well as the security, humanitarian and human rights challenges stemming from the unresolved Russia-Georgia conflict.
We stress the necessity of a peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict based on international law, including the UN Charter, and on the Helsinki Final Act, especially in the context of Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine.
Today we once again call on the Russian Federation to fully implement its obligation and commitments under the EU-mediated Ceasefire Agreement of 12 August 2008 and withdraw its military and security forces from the territory of Georgia without delay. We reiterate our 14 years old call to Russia to reverse the recognition of the so-called independence of Georgia’s territories Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, and not to impede the creation of an international security mechanism and allow access of international human rights organizations to both regions.