7 August 2019 marks 11 years since the large-scale military invasion of the Russian Federation in Georgia and the illegal occupation of Georgia’s indivisible regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
The military aggression, committed 11 years ago in a blatant violation of the fundamental norms of international law, was an attempt to change the borders of the sovereign state forcibly that has constituted a serious threat to the region and European security system as whole.
The Russian Federation has still not implemented the EU mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and further violates the international obligations, despite the continuous calls of the international community. While showing the total disregard of the commitments undertaken by the Ceasefire Agreement on withdrawal of its troops from Georgia’s territory, Moscow is further enhancing its military presence on the ground and impedes creation of international security mechanisms in the occupied regions.
Moreover, Russia is undertaking steps towards de-facto annexation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions along with the attempts to isolate the residents of the occupied territories from the rest of Georgia. With this aim, the Russian Federation continues installation of barbed wire fences and other artificial barriers, closure of so-called crossing points, restriction of freedom of movement and the practice of kidnapping and illegal detention of the local population, which constitute gross violations of the fundamental human rights and freedoms, and further aggravate already unbearable humanitarian and social-economic conditions of the conflict-affected people.
It is concerning that Georgians remained in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions are targets of oppression and discrimination on the ground of ethnicity, inter alia the prohibition of education in native Georgian language and insulting the dignity through enforcement to change their ethnic identity.
The cases of ethnically motivated torture and murder are further more alarming, which is vividly demonstrated by the facts of deprivation of life of Davit Basharuli, Giga Otkhozoria and Archil Tatunashvili. The sense of impunity that surrounds these cases allowed for the death of Irakli Kvaratskhelia in illegal detention at the Russian military base deployed in occupied Abkhazia region.
It is particularly deplorable that hundreds of thousands of IDPs and refugees, expelled from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions as a result of multiple waves of ethnic cleansing, are still deprived of the possibility to return to their homes in safety and dignity.
Against this background, it is all the more evident that it is of utmost necessity that the EUMM enters the the occupied regions in full compliance with its mandate, and that the international human rights mechanisms are granted the unristricted access to Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions.
In response to these challenges, Georgia is unwaveringly pursuing the policy of peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict through negotiations and de-escalation efforts. Georgia has fully implemented the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and has on many occasions unilaterally reaffirmed its commitment of observing the non-use of force pledge, still awaiting the reciprocity from the Russian side. While the Russian Federation is deliberately trying to undermine the peace negotiations formats, Georgia continues its constructive engagement in the Geneva International Discussions and spares no effort to address the security and humanitarian problems of people affected by Russia’s illegal occupation. At the same times, the Government of Georgia is undertaking steps to ensure the reconciliation and confidence building between the communities torn away by war and the occupation line, which has been clearly demonstrated by the peace initiative “A Step to a Better Future”.
Within the de-escalation efforts since 2012, specific steps have been undertaken to restore trade, economic and humanitarian relations with Russia, Georgia has made number of constructive decisions that however must be followed by relevant steps of Russia towards the conflict resolution.
The Georgian side highly values the international community’s firm support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity and contribution to the process of peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia appeals to the international community to consolidate efforts in order to ensure the de-occupation of Georgia’s territories by Russia and the safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia calls upon the Russian Federation to fulfil its obligations undertaken by the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders, reverse its illegal decision on recognition of the so-called independence of the occupied territories and undertake the relevant steps to settle the relations between Georgia and Russia with the aim to ensure the conflict resolution through dialogue, and peace in the region.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to use this opportunity and extend its deepest condolences to the families and relatives of the civilians and the soldiers who died heroically during the 2008 war.