On 2 May 2018, the Committee of Ministers' Deputies of the Council of Europe at its 1315th session adopted yet another decision on the agenda item “Council of Europe and the Conflict in Georgia”, in which the CoE Member States reaffirm their strong support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity holding Russia legally accountable for exercising actual control on Georgia’s occupied territories.
This decision is an important step forward in terms of the international assessment of the situation in Georgia’s occupied territories. The decision outlines clearly the position that Georgia is prevented from exercising legitimate jurisdiction over its regions due to the Russian Federation’s continuing military presence there.
It is also worth noting that the Decision, like previous decisions of the international organization, reaffirms that the conflict is between two member states - the Russian Federation and Georgia.
According to the Decision, Russia’s actions, in particular, the conclusion of so-called treaties
between the Russian Federation and Georgia’s region, the recent ratification by the Russian State Duma of the so-called agreement on the incorporation of military units of the Tskhinvali region of Georgia into the armed forces of the Russian Federation, as well as the recent opening of so-called customs points in Georgian regions impede a peaceful conflict resolution, undermine the ongoing efforts to strengthen security and stability in the region, constitute repeated violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and have no legal validity. In this regard, the Committee of Ministers' Deputies calls upon the Russian Federation to stop and reverse this process and to comply with its international law obligations and commitments, including under the EU mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.
The Committee of Ministers' Deputies express grave concern over the detention of three Georgian citizens Mr Archil Tatunashvili, Mr Levan Kutashvili and Mr Ioseb Pavliashvili in Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and the subsequent death of Mr Archil Tatunashvili in custody and condemn the fact that handing over his body became a topic for negotiations; They also express concern over obstacles to the freedom of movement of Mr Levan Kutashvili and Mr Ioseb Pavliashvili, who were allowed to cross into Tbilisi
Administered Territory after considerable delay.
Grave concern is also expressed over impunity around the killing of an unarmed Georgian civilian, Mr Giga Otkhozoria on 19 May 2016 in the village of Khurcha; as well as at the razing of intentionally damaged houses belonging to IDPs in Eredvi village, Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, in violation of property rights;
The Decision reiterates that any illegal act by the Russian Federation aimed at changing the status of the Georgian regions, including through issuing passports and establishing a so called status of foreign residents, have no legal effect and further complicate the situation on the ground;
The Decision takes special note of the human rights violations underlining calling on the authorities exercising effective control to guarantee and implement the right to education
in the native language; to create conditions allowing for the voluntary, safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees, and to protect their property rights; to remove any impediment, restriction or limitation to the right to freedom of movement across the ABLs and to cease arbitrary detention of persons; to ensure that residents of the Georgian regions concerned are not subject to discrimination on any including ethnic ground and are prevented from holding Georgian passports; to prevent further deterioration of monuments belonging to the cultural heritage throughout Georgia’s regions - Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
The Committee of Ministers' Deputies underlines the efforts of Georgia to reach out to the residents of its regions - Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region by enhancing humanitarian activities and welcomes the new peace initiative of the Government of Georgia entitled “A Step to a Better Future”, as a vivid sign of Georgia’s firm commitment to promote confidence and interaction between the societies split by the dividing lines.
The Committee of Ministers' Deputies calls on the Russian Federation to secure immediate and unrestricted access to the territories beyond the control of the Government of Georgia to the Council of Europe bodies.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia welcomes the Decision of the Committee of Ministers' Deputies of the Council of Europe, which is based on the decisions in 2014, 2015 2016 and 2017.