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Tbilisi wants term “occupied territories” included in international documents

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, May 24
Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze has commented on the European Parliament resolution of May 20, 2010 on the need for an EU strategy for the South Caucasus, saying that it is a “pity” that Georgia’s occupied territories are described as “separatist territories” in the report. “Before the war of 2008 [between Georgia and Russia] the term “separatist regions” was acceptable. However after the Russian aggression it is unacceptable, because these territories [Abkhazia and South Ossetia] are occupied,” news agency RIA Novosti quoted Vashadze as saying.

The Georgian Foreign Minister expressed hope that discussions on this issue will continue. “The adopted resolution does not mean that the European Parliament has finished discussing the Georgian issue or that the Foreign Ministry and other official institutions of Georgia will not have the chance to work on ensuring that the term “occupied territories” is included in future international documents,” Vashadze told journalists.

In its resolution on the South Caucasus the European Parliament reiterated its “unconditional support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the internationally recognised borders of Georgia” and called on Russia to “respect them.” The resolution welcomed the Tagliavini report on the Russian-Georgian conflict of 2008 and expressed support for “its main observations and conclusions.” The European Parliament wrote in its report that it “expects that the extensive background information provided by the report can be used in legal proceedings at the International Criminal Court and by individual citizens as regards infringements of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

The European Parliament “notes with satisfaction that the international community almost unanimously rejects the unilateral declaration of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, deplores the recognition by the Russian Federation of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as being contrary to international law, and calls on all parties to respect the Ceasefire Agreement of 2008 and guarantee the safety and free access of EUUM personnel on the ground and calls on Russia to honour its commitment to withdraw its troops to the positions they held before the outbreak of the August 2008 war.” The European Parliament also expressed its concern at the agreement between the Russian Federation and the de facto authorities of Abkhazia to establish a Russian military base in Abkhazia without the consent of the Government of Georgia. “Such an agreement is in contradiction with the Ceasefire Agreements of 12 August and 8 September 2008,” the resolution reads.

In the resolution the European Parliament also stressed the need to address the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-South Ossetian dimension of the conflicts and ensure that the rights and concerns of all the populations involved are equally taken into account. “The isolation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is counterproductive to conflict resolution,” the resolution reads. “[the European Parliament] welcomes the State Strategy on engagement through cooperation adopted on January 27, 2010 and encourages the Georgian authorities to consult all stakeholders regarding the preparation of an action plan on the implementation of this strategy.” The European Parliament expressed its support for the “further extension” of the EU Monitoring Mission and called on Russia and the de facto authorities of Georgia’s breakaway regions to “stop blocking parts of its implementation.”