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The occupiers must let IDPs return, says OSCE

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, July 12
A resolution supporting the unconditional return of refugees to the breakaway territories of Georgia was adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Oslo on July 10. Despite efforts by the Russian side to have the issue taken off the agenda the resolution was supported by the majority of OSCE member countries. It highlighted the necessity of finding ways to secure the early, safe and dignified voluntary return of around 500,000 people internally displaced following the August 2008 War and the subsequent ethnic cleansing undertaken by Russia. The resolution also urged Russia to fulfill the obligations it undertook in the August 2008 ceasefire agreement.

“The resolution on refugees adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly based on the return of IDPs to their homes is a very important document which we hope will encourage conflict resolution,” said Goran Lennmarker, President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Special Representative for the South Caucasus. “Russia as an interested party was again urged to fulfill its main obligations and deoccupy Georgia. What’s more it is crucial to stress that this was the first time since the August War in which a Parliamentary resolution has mentioned the phrase “ethnic cleansing” and its consequences,” Gigi Tsereteli, Deputy Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia told the media from Oslo.

Tsereteli is also the newly elected Vice-President of the European People`s Party (EPP) faction at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. The EPP is one of the most influential groupings in Europe and the largest group in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Consiglio Di Nino, the Head of Canada's Parliamentary Delegation and Vilija Aleknaite Abramikiene, Head of the Lithuanian Parliamentary Delegation, were also elected as Vice Presidents of the EPP while Habsburg Douglas, the head of the Swedish delegation, became Chairman of the EPP. Elections for Chairperson of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly were also held in which Joao Soares was replaced by Petros Ephtimius.

The Georgian delegation presented the Government's strategy on the occupied regions, stressing Russia’s objections to the OSCE resolution are absolutely groundless and the document is truthful, consistent with international law and politically correct. The delegation members highlighted that the Russian occupation has created a large number of new IDPs on Georgian territory and the only side which doesn’t recognise the country’s sovereignty over its breakaway regions is Russia.

Guram Chakhvadze, Chairman of the Georgian Parliamentary Interfactional Group from the National Democratic Party, told the media in Tbilisi, “Everything Russia says about its wish to cooperate with the Georgian people is said simply as a front for the international community because their objections to the OSCE resolution prove the opposite. They had better understand that elections and such other related issues are up to the Georgian people to decide and any country interested in these issues should respect the choice of the Georgian people regardless of what it might want to see happen itself.”

Akaki Minashvili, member of the Permanent Delegation of the Parliament of Georgia to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, said that the document was adopted despite Russia’s resistance because our European partners have a distinct position on this issue. “No one can tolerate ethnic cleansing and occupation by a neighbouring country. The comment of the initiator of the document, Goran Lennmarker, that ethnic cleansing had been often used as a means of extending an occupation just like the Russian Federation was doing in Georgia was really decisive,” he stated. Dimitri Lortkipanidze, opposition member of the delegation, said that the address of Gigi Tsereteli, head of the delegation, had also been important in encouraging other delegations to vote for the resolution on returning the IDPs.

Analyst Gia Khukhashvili has told The Messenger that the resolution was the logical consequence of the discussions in Oslo. “Each international organisation should adopt such resolutions as the OSCE has, in accordance with international standards, but promises should be supported by particular results. Otherwise everything is part of a political game without moral rules. Our Government has itself taken on the obligation to discuss the issue of the Turkish-Meskhetian population but has failed to do so as yet, and Russia can use this as a counter argument against us in order to endanger our statehood. Russia is also expressing its readiness to be a mediator between Georgia and its breakaway regions, saying that both Abkhazia and South Ossetia are independent states and the IDP issue should be discussed between these sides,” Khukhashvili said.

The analyst stressed that it was not particularly important for Russia to either accept or block the resolution adopted at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. He told The Messenger that this issue is so problematic that nothing can actually be achieved until Russia is regarded internationally as an “occupying country”, despite the Georgian propaganda against it.