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Council of Europe eager for solutions

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, October 6
The chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE), Antonio Milososki spoke of the harsh conditions in the occupied Georgian territories even two years after the military conflict at the opening of the CoE Parliamentary Assembly Sitting on October 4. Stressing that the situation in Georgia remains a burning issue for the Committee, Milososki shared with his colleagues details of his visit to Georgia with CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn Yagland in July, 2010.

Meetings between the CoE committee of ministers, the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili and other political authorities from the ruling party were mainly oriented on cooperation between Georgia and the CoE. “We discussed the importance of raising the CoE’s engagement in protecting the rights of people living in the conflict affected regions. These are not just formal words – we should really care for the personal tragedies of all those people,” Milososki stated recollecting the IDPs camps viewed during his visit to Georgia. Expressing hope that the tragic results of the conflict would be solved, the chairman of the CoE Committee of Ministers encouraged all the engaged sides to promote healthy dialogue of the issue and stressed that the CoE Secretary General had already started preparing a report on human rights’ conditions in Georgia which will be discussed by the Committee of Ministers in November 2010.

Explaining that the CoE has to listen to the real story of the Georgian conflict from both leaders, Russian MPs have demanded the participation of the de-facto leaders of the so-called Abkhazian and South Ossetian Republics at the CoE Session. The British MP David Wilshire who is disapproved of by the CoE for visiting the so-called Embassy of South Ossetian Republic in Moscow joined the initiative of his Russian colleagues. Commenting on the blockade of the Russian Delegation in particular Sergey Markov to the meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Commission for Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Wilshire stressed that the CoE has to change its “rules”. “There’s no sense in discussing this issue nowadays but we have to learn to listen to different opinions even if we don’t share them…” Wilshire told the media.

Georgian MP Petre Tsiskarishvili explained the reasons for blocking the attendance of the member of Russian Duma Sergey Markov to the PACE sitting in Tbilisi on September 16-17. Explaining Georgian legislation to CoE representatives, Tsiskarishvili stressed that no person visiting any of the occupied territories in Georgia has a right to visit the country. Claiming that Markov had already been in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Georgian MP showed that all the other members of the Russian delegation apart from Markov had been sent visas to attend the session but they unfortunately boycotted the offer. “The fact that Sergey Markov had been to Abkhazia just a couple of weeks before the PACE meeting is a pure provocation,” Tsiskarishvili said adding that no Russian citizen obeying the Georgian legislation has ever faced such a situation.

Calling the war between Georgia and Russia “an extraordinary event” Tsiskarishvili highlighted the fact that it was the first case of a military confrontation between the two CoE member states during its 60-year experience. “We should not forget how the 500 000 IDPs affected by the ethnic cleansing have been deprived of the right to return to their homes in the Russian occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” he added.

Analyst Mamuka Areshidze spoke of the harsh conditions faced by the IDPs with The Messenger. “IDPs need more social and psychological support from the Government of Georgia. Even though we are not a rich country, more could have been done for rehabilitating those people,” he stated.

Discussing the demand of the Russian Delegation to invite de-facto Abkhazian and South Ossetian Delegations to the CoE Parliamentary Assembly Sitting, Areshidze stressed that their status will have the main importance for the audience. “If the status of the de-facto Republic will be defined as the regional representatives of the Georgian occupied territories it will put them in awkward conditions,” the analyst told us claiming the CoE won’t allow introducing the delegations under the status of republics.