The Committee of Ministers' Deputies of the Council of Europe held its 1255thmeeting on 4 May 2016 where the Committee of the Ministers' Deputies adopted with absolute majority a decision on the agenda item “Council of Europe and the Conflict in Georgia”, based on the respective decisions of 29 April 2014 and 12 May 2015, reiterating the unequivocal support of the Council of Europe member States for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders.
The Decision emphasizes the responsibility of the Russian Federation as a state exercising effective control over Georgia’s occupied territories to ensure the protection of human rights there, in particular:
- to guarantee and implement the right to education in the native language;
- to create conditions allowing for the safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees, including through protecting their right to property;
- to remove any impediment, restriction or limitation to the right to freedom of movement across the administrative boundary lines and to prevent arbitrary detention of persons;
- to ensure that people living in these territories are protected from discriminatory treatment;
- to investigate allegations of human rights violations.
In the decision, the Committee of Ministers' Deputies regrets that despite the continued calls upon the Russian Federation to reverse the process of installation of artificial obstacles along the administrative boundary lines, it continues this process through various means, including by installing new demarcation signposts.
The Committee of Ministers' Deputies welcomes various initiatives taken by the Government of Georgia in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, inter alia, through providing free medical service to the residents of these regions.
In the decision, the Committee of Ministers' Deputies calls on the Russian Federation to facilitate and grant unrestricted access to the territories beyond the control of the Georgian authorities to the existing bodies of the Council of Europe.
The Decision states that measures taken by the Russian Federation with regard to the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, especially the conclusion of so called treaties on alliance and strategic partnership/integration, undermine the ongoing efforts to strengthen security and stability in the region, and clearly violate Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Therefore, the Committee of Ministers' Deputies calls upon the Russian Federation to stop and reverse this process and comply with its international law obligations and commitments, including the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and its Implementing Measures of 8 September 2008.
This Decision of the Committee of Ministers' Deputies is an important step forward in ensuring human rights protection in Georgia’s occupied territories. Georgia not only remains on the Council of Europe’s political agenda but there is also a significant increase of interest towards the country, which is further proved by the fact that the Council of Europe, over the past few years, has been paying an increased attention to the situation in Georgia’s occupied territories (see the Decisions of 2014, 2015 and 2016).
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia welcomes the Decision adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers’ Deputies on the Conflict in Georgia and expresses its gratitude to the Council of Europe Member States for their support.