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20% of Georgia remains occupied by Russia 11 years after August war

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, August 8
Eleven years after the August War in 2008, Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions are still occupied by Russia.

The war, which lasted for five days, brought Georgia human loss 412, including 170 soldiers, 14 police officers, and 228 civilians. Three journalists were also killed, six were wounded.

Also, 1,747 people were wounded in the Georgian side – including 973 soldiers, 227 police officers, and 547 civilians.

130, 000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) – out of which 26,000 are still denied the right to return.

35,000 houses were burned, ruined or destroyed on the territory of Georgia while 125 villages remain occupied since the August 2008 war.

Official Tbilisi released a statement regarding the war anniversary. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the Russian Federation carried out a large-scale military intervention against Georgia and illegally occupied Georgia’s regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia and it has not fulfilled the EU-brokered ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008.

“The military aggression carried out eleven years ago in complete disregard of the fundamental norms of international law was an attempt to forcefully change the sovereign state’s borders, which seriously endangered the security systems of the region and Europe,” it says.

The MFA stressed Moscow further strengthens its illegal military presence on the ground and impedes the establishment of international security mechanisms in Georgia’s regions, adding it takes steps aimed at de-facto annexation of Georgia’s regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali and tries to isolate the occupied territories from the rest of Georgia.

Official Tbilisi claims Russia deliberately continues to erect artificial barriers on the occupation line, closes the so-called passing points, restricts free movement, abducts and illegally detains local residents and thereby grossly violates the fundamental human rights and freedoms and makes the already difficult humanitarian and socio-economic situation of the conflict-affected population even harder. It also speaks about the ethnic discrimination and harassment of the Georgian population remaining in the regions.

“The cases of torture and murder on ethnic grounds are even more alarming, such as the deaths of Davit Basharuli, Giga Otkhozoria, and Archil Tatunashvili. The impunity of perpetrators in these cases made possible the death of Irakli Kvaratskhelia in illegal captivity at the Russian military base in the occupied region of Abkhazia,” the MFA said.

Georgia is also concerned about the fact that the international humanitarian organizations have no access to the occupied territories and speaks of the necessity the EU Monitoring Mission be enabled to enter and fully carry out its mandate in the occupied regions, and that unrestricted access be ensured to international human rights mechanisms.

Tbilisi says the Georgian government pursues a policy of peaceful resolution of the Russian-Georgian conflict. Georgia has fully fulfilled the terms of the 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement and unilaterally reaffirmed its commitment to the non-use of force, but the similar response is pending from Russia.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on the Russian Federation to fulfill its obligations under the 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement, respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, revoke its illegal decision on the recognition of the so-called independence of the so-called occupied territories and take appropriate steps to regulate Georgia-Russia relations, resolve conflict through dialogue and secure peace in the region,” the statement reads.

Georgian opposition MPs also made comments regarding the war anniversary. Grigol Vashadze from the United National Movement says August 7 is a symbolic date, adding Russia started a war against Georgia much earlier.

“This shameful military aggression has brought Georgia more than 500 dead civilians, destroyed infrastructure, and once-and-for-all ruined relations between Georgia and Russia. This is an eternal shame for Russia. They can never get rid of this shame, no matter how much they talk about mutual religion and common history,” he said.

European Georgia member David Bakradze says Georgia is against war, but it will reach unity again one day.

“I would like to pay tribute to the heroes who defended Georgia’s freedom and sovereignty at the cost of their lives… We do not want war, but Georgia will continue to fight. Georgia will continue its peaceful struggle to end the occupation, to unite the country and to have a European future as a truly free country,” he added.