The Group of Friends of Georgia to OSCE has released a joint statement on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the Russia-Georgia War

The Group of Friends of Georgia to OSCE including Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States of America delivered a joint statement at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting, on 3 September 2020.
 
 
The statement reads that twelve years since the Russian military invasion of Georgia, we remain deeply concerned over the continued occupation of parts of the territory of Georgia and underlineს the need for the peaceful resolution of the conflict based on full respect for the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and international law. 

The delegations call upon the Russian Federation to fulfill immediately its clear obligation under the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement to withdraw its forces to pre-conflict positions.
 
The members of the Group of Friends are deeply concerned over humanitarian conditions of civilians in conflict-affected areas, human rights abuses, and the increased Russian military exercises and build up in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions.
 
 
“We are concerned by the intensified provocations by the Russian Federation and the regimes in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali that continued unabated amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We are particularly concerned over the installation of barbed wire fences and other artificial barriers along the administrative boundary lines (ABLs) of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, and the lengthy closure of so-called crossing points in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions along the ABLs. These actions have destabilized the situation on the ground and severely impacted the security, safety, well-being, and humanitarian conditions of civilians in conflict-affected areas, particularly in Akahalgori and Gali districts.” – reads the statement. According to it, Dozens of people died over the past year as they were deprived of the possibility of getting prompt and adequate medical care, due to the closures of the so-called crossing points.  


The delegations express their deep concern over the shooting and wounding of Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze and call for the International Committee of the Red Cross to be provided prompt access to all detainees, and further for immediate release of those under illegal custody. 


The Group is following closely the case of the death of Georgian citizen Irakli Kvaratskhelia in detention at the Russian Military base in Georgia’s Abkhazia region. The Group also condemns the killing of Georgian citizens Archil Tatunashvili, Giga Otkhozoria, and Davit Basharuli, and urges the Russian Federation, as the state exercising effective control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, to remove any obstacles to bringing the perpetrators to justice. “In this context, we reiterate our support for Georgia’s preventive steps aimed at eradication of the sense of impunity for crimes committed in its territory under the Russian Federation’s control and note the adoption of the Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili List by the Government of Georgia” – reads the statement.


The delegations welcome Georgia’s compliance with the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement and Georgia’s unilateral commitment not to use force, and call on the Russian Federation to reciprocate, and to affirm and implement a commitment not to use force against Georgia. They support the Geneva International Discussions (GID)   and the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs) underlining the necessity of progress within these formats.
 
 
The OSCE Member States support the peace initiative of the Government of Georgia, ‘A Step to a Better Future’, aimed at improving the humanitarian and socio-economic conditions of people residing in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions and at fostering confidence building among divided communities to the benefit of all affected people. They welcome the program’s initial successes, including the launch of its education programs and the “Enterprise for a Better Future” grants program, which already registered high interest and engagement of communities on all sides of the administrative boundary lines, as well as the establishment of the Peace Fund for a Better Future, and we look forward to supporting its continued implementation.


The Group of Friends of Georgia reaffirmed that “they will continue to raise awareness of the conflict and of developments on the ground, hold Russia accountable for its obligations and commitments, and advocate for the conflict’s peaceful resolution”.