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2008 War not a topic of discussion at upcoming Council of Europe ministerial

By Ana Robakidze
Friday, May 10
The 2008 war between Georgia and Russia will not be one of the topics of discussion at the upcoming ministerial meeting of the Council of Europe (CoE). The issue of the 2008 War has been removed from the agenda of the ministerial, which is scheduled to take place in Strasbourg on May 16th.

Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze has already commented on this. She explained that the CoE has other mechanisms to deal with war related issues. The minister is very optimistic about the ministerial and says Georgian representatives to the CoE are able to succeed in all matters relating to the country's interests. "The Council of Europe has other mechanisms where this issue (military operations in Georgia in August 2008) will be put on the agenda. It was not discussed at the ministerial meeting held in 2011 in Istanbul either." Panjikidze said.

Former Georgian ambassador to the Council of Europe and current governor of Kakheti Zurab Tchiaberashvili says this is a "serious failure" of Georgian diplomacy and a "victory" for Russian foreign policy, for which Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has to be blamed. Tchiaberashvili said at a press conference on May 9th that Georgia began to lose its position at the CoE after the PMs speech to the Council of Europe in April. The governor accuses Ivanishvili of being very tolerant towards the Russian Federation.

"The Prime Minister arrived in Strasburg and in his speech he didn't mention ethnic cleansing, he didn't speak about the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but he told us we should normalize relations with Russia." Tchiaberashvili said, adding that the speech "disabled" Georgian diplomacy.

The governor has requested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs inform the public on all efforts the ministry took to make sure the 2008 War would be discussed at the ministerial. He also wants all subsequent official documents to be released to the public.

Foreign Minister Panjikidze advised the opposition to stop all groundless allegations regarding the matter. Panjikidze asked the opposition to prove that Georgia has lost its position at the Council of Europe or that the organization has lost interest in the Georgian-Russian conflict.

Parliament Chairman David Usupashvili does not see any reasons for criticism. "The Council of Europe works with its own agenda where Georgian issues sometimes appear, but often do not. Usupashvili said at the press conference, adding that there are no signs that Georgia is losing its position in the international arena.

However the opposition is still concerned over the issue and claim that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has to take steps to fix the situation and strengthen their position with international organizations. UNM MP Giorgi Vashadze claims that the Foreign Ministry simply failed to do its job. The opposition claims it is important that the Georgia-Russia war is on the ministerial agenda every year.