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Hague decision a “huge victory” says Georgian Government

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, October 17
The decision of the International Court of Justice on Georgia’s request to impose provisional measures on Russia has drawn conflicting statements from the both countries’ representatives.

While the Georgian Government has assessed the court ruling as “a great victory in one of the most important battles,” the Russian side has downplayed the ICJ ruling, saying that it has no judicial power, as the case “was beyond the remit of International Court of Justice.” The Russian Foreign Ministry said on October 16 that it will appeal against the decision.

On October 15 the International Court of Justice ordered Georgia and Russia to protect the civilian population in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This ruling was issued in a response to Georgia’s request to impose provisional measures on Russia to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Georgian population in the areas that were occupied by Russian military forces in August.

According to the ruling, adopted by eight votes to seven, both Georgia and Russia should take responsibility to ensure the security of civilians, refrain from any act of ethnic or racial discrimination, and provide the right to freedom of movement and residence and protection of property to IDPs. The court ruled that both countries should inform the court on how they are fulfilling the terms of the provisional measures. The ICJ has yet to decide whether to accept another case filed by Georgia on August 12, which accuses Russia of ethnic discrimination against Georgian civilians. In its lawsuit Georgia claims that Russia has violated its obligations, taken under the 1956 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, from 1990 until today.

The first statement on the decision was made a couple of hours after the court ruling was issued. Georgian Justice Minister Nika Gvaramia congratulated the nation, adding that it was not only a legal, but also a political victory. “By today’s ruling the court has fully satisfied Georgia’s request,” Gvaramia said. “The ruling of the ICJ is exactly what Georgia wanted to get,” said Deputy Justice Minister Tina Burjaliani, who represented the Georgian side at the court hearing. She said that Georgia has always defended the principles of international law and would continue to do so.

While the Georgian Government is excited about the ruling of the International Court of Justice, some commentators remain skeptical about the real value of the decision. Political analyst Gia Khukhashvili thinks the Georgian Government has overestimated the importance of the ICJ ruling. He says the welcoming statements are part of the Georgian Government’s PR campaign. “Although the ICJ decision is positive, it is just the beginning of a long-term process which I do not think will bring any major benefit to us,” Khukhashvili stated. “What is our Government hoping to get from the ICJ decision? Maybe to receive several millions of dollars in aid or to show Russia’s real face to the world once more?”

Khukhashvili said Russia will also take countermeasures in response to Georgia’s appeal, first of all by making analogical claims at the same court. The analyst said Ossetian citizens are already preparing an appeal against Georgia with the help of Russian officials. “Russia has already made a fatal step and is not going to turn back,” Khukhashvili told The Messenger. The analyst also does not rule out the possibility that Russia will try to influence the international court’s decision making process when the Georgian lawsuit on ethnic discrimination is discussed. “Theoretically Russia cannot influence court decisions, but we all know that Russia has the tools to create indirect pressure on international society,” Khukhashvili added.