EU rejects election results in Georgian region of Abkhazia
On 23 March, the EU issued a statement in reaction to the presidential elections in the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia.
“The European Union supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia, as recognised by international law,” the statement said. “With regard to the so-called presidential elections that took place in the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia on 22 March 2020, we recall that the European Union does not recognise the constitutional and legal framework in which they took place.”
The EU added that it will continue to pursue its policy of non-recognition and engagement, and the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia will remain fully mobilised in this regard.
European Solidarity Corps: over €138 million to support volunteering activities by young people in 2022
The European Commission launched the call for proposals under the European Solidarity Corps for 2022, providing for the first time opportunities to contribute to humanitarian aid operations across the globe. This new strand of international projects is called the European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps.
The call makes available almost €139 million to fund volunteering, youth-led solidarity projects, teams in high priority areas focussing on promoting healthy lifestyles and the preservation of cultural heritage, and the new European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps.
The European Solidarity Corps is open to young people between 18 and 30 for solidarity activities addressing societal challenges and between 18 and 35 for international humanitarian aid activities. Young people wishing to engage in European Solidarity Corps activities need to register in the European Solidarity Corps portal where they can browse and find organisations implementing projects. Groups of young people registered in the European Solidarity Corps Portal may also apply for funding for solidarity projects led by themselves.
Any public or private body may apply for funding to carry out activities under the European Solidarity Corps. Such organisations need to obtain a quality label, which certifies that they are able to carry out high quality solidarity activities in compliance with the principles, objectives and requirements of the programme. They can apply with the help of European Solidarity Corps National Agencies based in all EU Member States and third countries associated to the programme or of the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) for centralised actions.
The call is open until 23 February for projects taking place the same year, and until 4 October for the ones in the following year.
The European Solidarity Corps is an EU programme for young people wishing to engage in solidarity activities in a variety of areas ranging from helping disadvantaged people to contributing to health and environmental action, across the EU and beyond. The total budget of the European Solidarity Corps programme for 2021-2027 is €1 billion.
The material is prepared within the project "EU NEIGHBOURS east"
Statement by the Spokesperson on the appointments of Supreme Court judgesThe Georgian Parliament endorsed six Supreme Court judges on Monday, despite calls by the European Union to pause and revise the appointment process to bring it in line with European standards. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recently expressed concerns over the fairness and equality of the nomination process in its interim report.The appointments go against key provisions of the 19 April Agreement to pause all ongoing appointments, comply fully with all recommendations made by the Venice Commission, and overall to increase the independence, accountability and quality of the justice system in a broad, inclusive and cross-party reform process.Revising the selection process of Supreme Court judges in line with Venice Commission recommendations before proceeding with appointments, is also a mutually agreed condition for the disbursement of the second tranche of EU macro-financial assistance to Georgia under its current programme, which could be negatively affected by this step.The vote is therefore a missed opportunity for the Georgian authorities to prove their commitment to a genuine and comprehensive reform of the judiciary. These developments carry a risk of damaging judicial independence and public trust.The EU is open to further talks at the highest levels to discuss justice reform and the way ahead following these developments, notably in the context of the 19 April Agreement and decisions regarding EU macro-financial assistance to Georgia.
David Zalkaliani and Olivér Várhelyi have discussed the EU investment plan for 2022
On 7 July 2021, the Georgian Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Zalkaliani held a meeting with the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi. Discussing important dimensions of EU-Georgian relations, the sides expressed their commitment to further deepen cooperation.
Particular attention was paid to the EU investment plan for 2022, which determines goals of the Eastern Partnership beyond 2020. The sides highly appraised the economic and investment plan envisaging mobilization of assistance for partner countries in their efforts to eliminate negative consequences of the pandemic and achieve economic recovery. The sides also discussed Georgia-initiated flagship initiatives, including those on Black Sea energy, transport and digital connectivity, fully reflecting the priorities of the Georgian government.
Talking points also included expectations for Eastern Partnership Summit scheduled for December 2021, where EaP goals beyond 2021 will be approved and Joint Declaration will be adopted.
The sides also spoke about the need to maintain security and stability in the region and Georgia’s important role in this context. Special attention was paid to the situation in Georgia’s occupied territories and the EU’s role in the peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict.
CoE Committee of Ministers to mention term occupation in its decision on Georgia
“The decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is unprecedented, as it introduces the term occupation at the executive level for the first time,” the Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani declared on Thursday.
“Our main priority is to make the Russian-Georgian conflict issue real in the international arena and mobilize the support of the international community. We have another important success in this direction. The CoE Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg has adopted a decision on Georgia. We have been adopting such documents within this organization every year since 2014. But the decision is unprecedented this year as the term occupation has been introduced at the executive level for the first time,” FM said.
Zalkaliani underscored that the Committee of Ministers welcomed the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the Georgia v. Russia war case.
“Committee of Ministers welcomed the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the Georgia v. Russia 2008 war case that established the responsibility of the Russian Federation for grave human rights violations during the occupation of the Georgian Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region following the August 2008 war,” the Minister said.
According to Zalkaliani, the Committee of Ministers called on Russia to execute the ECHR judgment.
“In addition, it calls on the Russian Federation, as the state exercising effective control, to ensure the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia, by taking concrete steps outlined in detail in the document. Committee calls on Russia to secure immediate and unrestricted access of the Council of Europe bodies to the Georgian regions,” Minister said.
Zalkaliani praised all members of the organization who supported this decision.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe took its eighth decision on Georgia on May 12, 2012.
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 52nd Round of the Geneva International DiscussionsThe 52nd Round of the Geneva International Discussions was held on 26 March, 2021. The deteriorated security and humanitarian situation in Georgia’s occupied territories on the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, intensification of the de-facto annexation process by the Russian Federation and the release of the illegally detained Georgian citizens were among the main topics of the discussions.
In the frames of the negotiations the Georgian delegation talked extensively about the historic Judgment of the European Court of Human rights, which creates a significant international legal instrument in the process of peaceful conflict resolution. Participants from Georgia underlined that the Court established the Russian Federation’s effective control over and occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia and hence ruled the Russian Federation’s responsibility for the human rights violations during the August 2008 War and the subsequent period of occupation. The Georgian delegation stated that the ECHR underlined the Russian Federation’s responsibility for ethnic cleansing of Georgian population and for hampering the implementation of the right of return of IDPs and refugees. The Georgian participants also pointed to those parts of the Judgment which highlight the non-compliance with the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement by the Russian Federation and its continuous large-scale military presence in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia in violation of the undertaken obligations.Intensification of de-facto annexation process of Georgia’s occupied territories was raised sharply in light of the adoption of the “programme” for creation of a common social-economic space between the Russian Federation and Abkhazia region, as well as in the context of discussions by the President of Russia with the Sokhumi occupation regime about the creation of a “union state”. Georgian participants talked extensively about the intensified provocations carried out by the Russian federation on the background of COVID-19 pandemic, building a new Berlin wall in terms of erecting barbed-wire fences and other artificial barriers, as well as about the facts of illegal kidnappings and detentions of people living along the occupation line. The Georgian delegation demanded unconditional release of all the Georgian citizens being under the illegal detention in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali.
Significant attention was paid to the increased militarisation and regular military exercises in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia, continuation of the creeping occupation in the territory adjacent to the village Chorchana, as well as Russia’s intensified use of the hybrid war instruments, which serves for the destabilisation of the situation in the country.
An important part of the negotiations was dedicated to the grave humanitarian and social-economic consequences of the restriction of freedom of movement along the occupation line. Dire conditions of the residents of Gali and Akhalgori districts as well as of the Codori Gorge was stressed in this context. Fatal results entailed by hampering medical evacuations was emphasised and necessity of unimpeded access to healthcare services of people living in the occupied territories was underlined. Georgian participants raised the issue of restriction of freedom of movement of Tamar Mearakishvili, the activist from Akhalgori district, who had not been allowed to cross the occupation line and visit her family by Tskhinvali occupation regime for years.
The talks also focused on ethnic discrimination of Georgians remained in the occupied territories, grave consequence of the restriction of education in native language, as well as crucial importance of protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of local population. The Georgian delegation pointed to the increased attempts of russification and isolation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions from the rest of Georgia.
It was highlighted that the impunity in the cases of murder of David Basharuli, Giga Otkhozoria and Archil Tatunashvili encouraged ethnically based violence and crime. The Georgian delegation once again raised the issue of the necessity for execution of justice in the mentioned cases.
The emphasis was made on the need for access of the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM), as well as international human rights organisations in Georgia’s occupied territories. The necessity for ensuring unimpeded humanitarian support for the conflict-affected people during the COVID-19 pandemic was stressed, which in its turn represents one of the main obligations under the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.
Extensive talks were held on the efficient use of the negotiations formats, including the need for regular and proper functioning of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs). In this context the necessity of unconditional resumption of Gali IPRM and unhindered work of Ergmeti IPRM was underlined.
The necessity of adequately addressing problems and needs of conflict-affected and IDP women was highlighted in both working groups and the importance of amplification of “Women, Peace and Security” agenda in peace negotiations was underlined.
Active discussions were held on the major agenda items such as non-use of force and establishment of international security arrangements. The Georgian delegation underlined crucial importance of reiteration and implementation of the non-use of force obligation by Russia in light of Moscow’s continued use of force and threat of use of force against Georgia through its illegal military presence and regular military exercises in the occupied territories. The Georgian participants stressed that the only guarantee for the ceasefire and non-use of force was the deployment of international security mechanisms in the occupied territories, which would have been a milestone in the process of lasting peace and security on the ground. Georgian participants made emphasis on the issue of implementation of EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement by Russia, as well as demanded withdrawal of Russian occupation forces from the territory of Georgia and deployment of international security mechanisms on the ground.
Active exchange of views took place on one of the major agenda items like safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees expelled as a result of ethnic cleansing from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia. Despite the attempts of the Georgian delegation for non-politicised discussion of the issue the Russian Federation and the representatives of the occupation regimes once again tried to use this topic for political manipulations and left the negotiations table during the discussions on this agenda item.
The next round of the GID will be held on 29-30 June 2021.
Geneva International Discussions were launched on the basis of the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement. Discussions are held within the frames of two Working Groups, where participants are represented in their individual capacity. In the first Working Group talks are focused on security and stability in the occupied territories of Georgia, while in second Working Group – on humanitarian and human rights situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, as well as on the issues related to safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees to the places of their origin. The discussions are held with Co-Chairmanship of the EU, UN and OSCE, and participation of Georgia, the Russian Federation and the USA. The Head of the Provisional Administration of the former South Ossetian Autonomous District and the Chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, as well as the representatives of the Sokhumi and Tskhinvali occupation regimes also attend the Working Groups.Press Service of the MFA Administration