On 1 April 2022, in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the Occupied Territories of Georgia - "Cooperation with Georgia."
The resolution of Georgia was presented by the First Deputy Foreign Minister, Lasha Darsalia at the Council session. In his speech, he spoke about the difficult humanitarian situation in the Russian-occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. He noted that despite the direct call of the Human Rights Council and the efforts of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Russian occupation forces continue to prevent the Office of the High Commissioner and other international human rights monitoring mechanisms from entering Abkhazia and Tskhinvali.
The First Deputy Foreign Minister once again underlined the decision of the European Court of Human Rights of 21 January 2021 - Georgia v. Russia - which confirms the occupation of Georgian territories by Russia and its effective control over them.
In his speech Lasha Darsalia underlined that Russia's pattern of behaviour towards its neighbors remains unchanged. Georgia experienced Russia’s full-scale military aggression in 2008. Recent announcement on conduction of so-called referendum in the occupied South Ossetia on unification with RF is yet another demonstration of continues aggressive policy vis a vis Georgia. This pattern of behavior brazenly undermines the entire international rules-based order and poses grave threat to regional and global peace and security.
The First Deputy Minister reviewed the latest report of the High Commissioner, which reflects the grave humanitarian situation in the Russian-occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali and the gross human rights violations experienced by the conflict-affected population in both regions, including various forms of discrimination based on ethnicity, and violation of property rights, restriction of movement and education in the mother tongue.
Lasha Darsalia noted that the report provides facts about the killing of ethnic Georgians in 2014-2019 and emphasizes that the failure to bring to justice the perpetrators of the crimes contributes to strengthening the sense of impunity in the occupied regions. He also spoke about illegal cases of deprivation of liberty and noted that Georgian citizens are still illegally held captive by the occupation regime. At the same time, he stressed the need for the international community to work for their release.
According to the First Deputy Minister, the dire humanitarian situation in the occupied territories of Georgia clearly indicates the need for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international human rights monitoring mechanisms to get access to the occupied regions of Georgia.
During the discussion of the resolution initiated by the Georgian side, statements of support were made by the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Finland, and Lithuania. In its resolution adopted on 1 April, the Human Rights Council reaffirmed its support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
In its resolution, the Human Rights Council expresses serious concern also at various forms of reported discrimination against ethnic Georgians, violations of the right to life, deprivation of liberty, arbitrary detentions and kidnappings, infringements of the right to property, violations of the right to health, restrictions on education in one’s native language in both Georgian regions, and the continued practice of demolition of the ruins of houses belonging to internally displaced persons in the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia, refusal of medical evacuations that led to the deaths of people and further isolation of the regions. The Resolution maintains that the increasing restrictions on free movement in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic further exacerbated the humanitarian, social and economic situation on the ground and had particularly harmful effects on women’s and girls' rights.
The Resolution also expresses serious concern at the continuous process of installation and advancement of barbed wire fences and different artificial barriers along the administrative boundary line in Abkhazia, Georgia and Tskhinvali region, Georgia and adjacent areas.
The Resolution underlines the importance of the Geneva International Discussions established on the basis of the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008.
It is noteworthy that the resolution refers to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights of 21 January 2021, which claims that Russia is legally responsible for violations of international law and fundamental human rights during and after the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008, and for the occupation and effective control over Georgian territories.
The resolution condemns the so-called Parliamentary elections in the occupied region of Abkhazia on 12 March 2022 and so-called presidential elections scheduled for April of this year in the occupied region of Tskhinvali.
The UN Human Rights Council expresses serious concern at the repeated denial of access to international and regional monitors, including United Nations human rights mechanisms to both Georgian
regions by those in control of those regions and calls for immediate and unimpeded access to be given to the Office of the High Commissioner and international and regional human rights mechanisms to Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia.
The UN Human Rights Council requests the High Commissioner to present to the Human Rights Council an oral update on the follow-up to the present resolution and to present a written report on developments relating to and the implementation of the present resolution at its at its 50th and 51st sessions.
Czech Republic is one of the continuous supporter of Georgia’s healthcare system. Within this mandate, a delegation of Czech medical experts is visiting Georgia on May 17-19. The main aim of the mission is to establish partnerships with local hospitals and institutions, to specify the content and scope of future involvement of the Czech Republic’s permanent medical humanitarian programme (MEDEVAC) in the country and subsequently to follow this reconnaissance journey by training for local medical capacities to increase the quality of onco-gynecology and cancer prevention. The team consists of Prof. Michal Zikán, Ph.D., prof. Jiří Sláma, Ph.D., and programme managers – Ms. Aneta Hanzálková and Ms. Denisa Vrňatová.
Within the visit, the delegation will meet the representatives of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, Tbilisi State Medical University, National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, and Georgian Medical Holding. The delegation will also visit Rukhi and Batumi public hospitals, Screening Centre in Zugdidi and meet the Minister of Health and Social Care of Adjara A/R.
The President of Georgia: Russia Is Trying to Create a Mockery of International Relations by Creating a Precedent of Cooperation with the Occupied TerritoriesFriday, 17 March 2017 15:10
The Republic of Georgia has again demonstrated its deep commitment to Western values. Through the ballot box and for the second time in four years, Georgians last month showcased their sound democracy, vibrant pluralistic society and deep commitment to the values of the trans-Atlantic community. Results of this year’s parliamentary elections repeated and deepened the positive outcomes of their previous election in 2012.
Nearly unique among the new states formed from the old U.S.S.R., Georgia’s main parties all subscribed to and campaigned on Georgia’s strong attachment to Europe and NATO, and all favor a strong strategic anchor with the United States. Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili told me and stated publicly that this process is “irreversible,” a sentiment that resonates throughout Georgian society.
What can the U.S. do to support these solid achievements in Georgia and the aspirations behind them? Several reasonable options warrant close attention from the next administration. None requires significant expenditures and all directly advance American interests.
First, the barriers in Georgia’s pathway to NATO membership should be removed, and Georgia should receive a membership action plan without further delay. Georgians have paid their dues. Georgia volunteered its fighters to stand shoulder to shoulder with American and other NATO soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In per capita terms, Georgia’s contribution of manpower has been greater than all other NATO members except the U.S. This includes those European countries that have been somewhat cool toward Georgia’s membership in NATO. Germany, with a population of 81 million, lost 55 of its soldiers in NATO’s service in Afghanistan, while Georgia, with only 4.9 million inhabitants, lost 32 of its brave soldiers, a notable difference of scale.
NATO has recently extended its presence in Georgia by setting up a Joint Training and Evaluation Center. NATO should also tap Georgia’s unique perspective on its complex region. It has firsthand experience with Russian subversion; it borders restive Turkey; and it has an evolving relationship with its neighbor, Iran. These suggest several opportunities, including prospective intelligence sharing and counterintelligence operations.
Russia offers predictable complaints that for Georgia to join NATO would be a provocation. Concern about Russia’s probable reaction persuaded some NATO members that Georgia’s move toward NATO should be delayed. Yet recent NATO summits have repeatedly acknowledged Georgia’s contribution to the West’s security, while promising action on its application for full membership. The time to act is now. The West’s security interests should not be held hostage to Russian disapproval.
The Russian army continues to occupy more than 20% of Georgia’s territory, which it seized during its 2008 invasion of Georgia. Russia’s evolving imperial vision, which already includes parts of Ukraine and all of Crimea, is not compatible with the West’s values and security concerns.
Discussions aimed at the return of these Georgian territories have shown little progress. Meanwhile, Russian troops are stealthily moving the borders of the land they occupy deeper into Georgian territory. The U.S. must raise its profile in talks to resolve these matters and be prepared to take further measures to raise the cost to Russia of its occupation of Georgian territory.
It is time for the U.S. to acknowledge Georgia’s importance and help to make it an active participant in planning and strategy for the region. Georgia is a major energy transport route from the Caspian to America’s allies in Europe. It provides a barrier to the flow of jihadists from other parts of the former Soviet Union to the Middle East. And it will doubtless figure large in the strategies of any NATO consortium for securing the Black Sea and “New Europe” against Russian adventurism.
Beyond this, the U.S. should be more active in the development of the new East-West transport corridors, in which Georgia and the Caucasus play a central role. Its ports on the Black Sea will send and receive goods and raw materials from Asia and Europe, linking the entire Eurasian continent. An American company is currently constructing a deep-water port on Georgia’s Black Sea coast at Anaklia that will be able to accommodate the largest freighters. Georgia may be a small country but it is destined to become a linchpin connecting the economies of Europe and Asia.
For all these reasons the U.S. should act now to deepen its engagement with Georgia, not as an act of philanthropy but because America’s vital interests are at stake there. The people of Georgia have shown what good governance, strong democracy and an attachment to Western values can accomplish, even against daunting odds. Georgia is an ally we need and should welcome.