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Georgian officials welcome Lithuania’s resolution on “occupied territories”

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, June 3
Lithuania's parliament, the Seimas, has adopted a resolution supporting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and condemning Russia’s “aggression” and “occupation” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, its Press Service reports. 55 members of the Seimas voted for the resolution while 23 refrained from casting their vote.

The Georgian Government should reestablish its jurisdiction in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in order for peace and stability to be established in the conflict zones, the resolution reads. The authors of the resolution consider that the way to resolve the conflicts is to introduce self-governance and autonomy models in the breakaway regions acceptable to the local population and permissible under the Georgian constitution.

Tbilisi has welcomed the resolution, which refers to Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “occupied” territories. Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze thanked the Lithuanian parliament and Government “on behalf of the Georgian people” and expressed hope that the similar resolutions will be adopted in other European states as well.

“It is very important that European MPs have confirmed the clear truth that the two regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and Tskhinvali - are occupied and that ethnic cleansing took place on these territories,” Vashadze said on Wednesday. "Lithuania was the first European state to adopt such a document and I promise that the parliaments of many other states and the European Parliament will adopt one as well. What Russia calls 'independent states' are considered to be occupied regions by the international community. Once The Kremlin called Afghanistan and German Democratic Republic independent states in the same way,” the Georgian Minister said.

Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Giorgi Baramidze assessed the document adopted by the Lithuanian Seimas as “important”. “It is an important resolution in terms of informing the international community of what is happening in Georgia’s occupied territories,” Baramidze noted. “The Georgian Government is actively trying to demonstrate the objective reality of what is taking place in Abkhazia and South Ossetia as a result of the Russian aggression and occupation,” he added, calling the Lithuanian Seimas resolution “a step forward”. “Of course Russia is trying to portray the reality in a different way, however with the help of our friends we will make important political decisions. The resolution will be an important mechanism for pressurising Russia in diplomatic and political ways,” the Minister stated.

Georgian Parliament Speaker David Bakradze also assessed the adoption of the resolution as “very important.” “The legal adoption of the term ‘occupation’ at the international level, especially at the level of a parliamentary resolution, is very important,” he said.

In April the Georgian Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter to the parliaments of 31 states calling on them to declare Abkhazia and South Ossetia territories occupied by Russia and recognise that the Russian Federation has “conducted ethnic cleansing” on these territories. “Russia continues its activities aimed at destroying Georgia’s sovereignty, increasing its militarisation of Georgia’s occupied territories and legalising the campaigns of ethnic cleansing in these regions,” the letter reads. “All components of this policy are designed to hinder the progress and reforms in Georgia and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” it continues.

After the EU-Russia Summit in Rostov-on-Don on June 1 European Council President Herman Van Rompuy called on Russia to be “more constructive” in terms of fulfilling its commitments concerning Georgia. He was speaking at a joint press conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso. “In this respect we would like to see a more constructive role being played by Russia, including the implementation of earlier commitments, especially with regard to Georgia,” he said.