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Current Status Review in Occupied Territories of Georgia

During the dissolution of the Soviet Union, conflicts erupted in Georgia in the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, and the Autonomous Oblast of South Ossetia. While these conflicts resulted in a tragedy affecting the entire country, the populations in and adjoining these territories were hit especially hard. Mistakes made by all sides involved in the hostilities led to vast human suffering and destruction. Overcoming that suffering is central to the goal of promoting reconciliation among all war-affected populations. The Russian Federation played a pivotal role in fueling these conflicts, including by participating directly in the hostilities and continuously working to prevent their resolution (inter alia by obstructing international conflict resolution efforts). In the spring and summer of 2008, these Russian policies escalated into a series of acute provocations that culminated in the full-scale invasion of Georgian territory, followed by Russia’s recognition of the self-declared independence of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. The war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008 illustrated that the primary nature of the conflicts on the territory of Georgia is of an international character. The Government of Georgia, supported by the consensus of the international community, believes that the Russian invasion and subsequent recognition took place in blatant violation of fundamental principles of international law – notably the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Georgia’s legal position is supported by international law and norms, and reinforced by arrangements concluded during and after the August 2008 war; it is further reinforced by the statements of numerous international forums, including the EU-commissioned “Independent International Fact Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia,” which confirmed the illegality of the secession of these regions from Georgia and rejected Russia’s arguments for its invasion and recognition. Nevertheless, the Government of Georgia recognizes the existence of political differences with segments of the populations of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. Consequently, implementing this Strategy will require engagement with populations that have differing perceptions of the conflict. Since August 2008, Russia has increased its permanent military presence in and beyond the two occupied regions, including areas that were under Georgian-government control prior to the war. This constitutes a direct violation of the EU-brokered ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008. Moreover, by deploying FSB border guards along the administrative boundary lines, Russia is preventing the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) from fulfilling its mandate — to oversee compliance with the ceasefire agreement. Since the invasion, Russia has continued to disregard international arrangements, vetoing the extension of UNOMIG and impeding consensus on extending the OSCE’s presence in Georgia, including its military-monitoring component. In response to Russia’s occupation of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, in October 2008 the Georgian Parliament adopted the Law on Occupied Territories, defining a new legal regime that applies to the two regions. The legal arrangements vis-à- vis the regions is currently based on this law, as well as on international norms and arrangements. Chief among these are the ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008; the Conclusions of the September 1, 2008 meeting of the EU Council; the August 28, 2009 United Nations General Assembly resolution on “Status of IDPs and Refugees”; Resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on “The Consequences of the War Between Georgia and Russia” (#1633 (2008), #1647 (2009), #1648 (2009), #1664 (2009), #1683 (2009)), and “Reports on the Human Rights Situation in the Areas Affected by the Conflict in Georgia” (SG/Inf(2009)7, SG/Inf(2009)9, SG/Inf(2009)15); and the November 27, 2008 report of the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and High Commissioner for National Minorities on “Human Rights in the War-Affected Areas Following the Conflict in Georgia” (ODIHR/HCNM report). Russia’s occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, and its policy of annexing them, complicates the reconciliation of all the peoples of Georgia and the peaceful reintegration of the occupied territories into Georgia’s constitutional ambit. Given these circumstances, while committed to the full de-occupation of Georgia, the Government of Georgia deems it important to employ a human-centric, proactive policy that addresses the needs of the war-affected populations

Passage from: Government of Georgia State Strategy on Occupied Territories: Engagement Through Cooperation  

Related document: Action Plan for Engagement