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Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

 

UN Security Council high-level open debate on Conflicts in Europe. Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

Mr. President,

At the outset, let me thank the Ukrainian Presidency for convening this very important and timely debate, giving us an opportunity to focus on our region and reflect on the ways of responding to security challenges and continuous instability on the continent. 

I would like to thank the Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres and the Secretary-General of the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe Mr. Lamberto Zannier for their participation and input in this debate.

Mr. President,

The United Nations was created to put an end to war and serve as an international instrument to prevent conflicts, maintain peace and security.

Today, however, one could hardly point out a region free from security threats and confrontations.

Multiple conflicts in Europe share similarities and common patterns, with infringement of sovereignty and territorial integrity of neighboring states.

We all have seen aggression first in Georgia, then Ukraine, and it possibly can happen elsewhere if no action is taken today.

In Europe, we all witness reverse of the political culture of cooperativeness which was enshrined by CSCE/OSCE landmark documents.  We went back to the politics of the threat and use of force.

It is particularly alarming when security architecture is deliberately undermined by the permanent member of the Security Council, who precisely is to stand guard over international principles.

Inability to solve protracted conflicts and prevent emergence of new ones in the last decade demonstrated the fundamental deficiencies in the current international security architecture.

Let me remind you, that for 16 years, starting from early 90s, this very chamber adopted 39 resolutions on the conflict on Georgia, reaffirming territorial integrity and sovereignty of my country within its internationally recognized borders, denounced ethnic cleansing and stressed the necessity - and I quote -“to address seriously the need for a dignified return of IDPs and refugees, including their security and human rights concerns”.

From Georgia’s experience: a conflict that started in the early 90s reached it culmination in 2008 Russian military intervention in Georgia and occupation of our territories, as the international community failed in effectively responding to the early warning signs.

Moreover, following the August war, we lost even the minimal existing safeguards, as in 2009 both UNOMIG and OSCE Missions to Georgia were unilaterally blocked by Russia, despite the increased need of their presence to monitor the situation on the ground.

It is a vivid example that all protracted or dormant conflicts contain threat of escalation at any time and require regular monitoring by the Security Council, instead of only reacting to the crises on ad hoc basis.

It would be, thus, important to launch periodic reporting by the Secretary-General to the Security Council on protracted conflicts.

Excellencies,

While the UN, OSCE and EU have been engaged in international talks between Georgia and Russia as the co-moderators of the Geneva International Discussions for 8 years now, more needs to be done to deliver on tangible results, which first and foremost requires political will and commitment from all.

It requires more stewardship on behalf of the Co-Chairs and the Secretary-General in guiding and assessing the process based on the principles and norms of international law.

We should all support the Secretary-General in assuming stronger leadership role.

Mister President,

My country has been long committed to the constructive and peaceful policy of reconciliation and confidence building. Let me stress, that Georgia is committed to good neighborly relations and strives to have peace in the region. It was in this spirit that Georgia undertook the unilateral non-use of force commitment, which was never reciprocated.

Since 2012, the Government of Georgia has been seeking the de-escalation of relations with the Russian Federation, by making constructive and practical steps. We have established dialogue on issues related to trade, transport, people-to-people relations, aimed at de-escalation tensions, which has provided some positive outcomes.

We work constructively in the format of Geneva International Discussions, open for constructive negotiations. Last year was marked by the restoration of the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism.

As concerns the relations with our compatriots living in the occupied territories, the ethnic Abkhaz and Ossetians, are an integral part of our common history and future, despite the current artificial barriers. There is no alternative to the return of the IPDs and refugees to their homes and to the full re-integration of all ethnicities into a vibrant society where human rights and individual freedoms as well as cultural and linguistic diversity of different communities are the Georgian State’s top priorities.

We firmly pursue the engagement, confidence building and reconciliation process with the people living in the occupied territories. We are offering all benefits which are open to Georgian citizens. We stand ready to offer all the progress we will be having on our development path.

Despite all these  the Russian Federation continues policy which is aimed at so called factual annexation of Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia through illegal agreements on integration signed with the de-facto authorities of the regions.

The decision by the occupation regime to conduct the so called referendum in Tskhinvali region to rename the region to “Republic of South Ossetia - State of Alania”, similar to one of the federal subjects of the Russian Federation is another attestation of this policy.

In parallel, the occupation regime in Abkhazia region took decision to close the so-called checkpoints on occupation line, further impeding free movement of the local population. We call on international community to condemn and counter these acts.

We, thus, call upon the Russian Federation to reverse its illegal policy, comply with international obligations, including the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and grant access to the international monitoring mechanisms, first and foremost the EUMM, as provided by its mandate. Facilitate the creation of international security arrangements and allow the return of hundreds of thousands of IDPs and refugees, who have been forcefully evicted from their homes.

Georgia stands ready to settle the conflict with the Russian Federation by exclusively peaceful means, in accordance with relevant international agreements and with full respect for the fundamental principles of international law.

The withdrawal of Russia’s occupation forces from Georgia would be the most important stage toward a comprehensive settlement of the Russo-Georgian conflict.

Finally, let me reiterate how important it is that the international community unanimously reaffirms the adherence to the UN Charter and the fundamental principles and norms of international law.

In this context, Mister President, I reaffirm Georgia’s strong support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of your country and other European states. It is vital that we all spare no efforts to find effective solutions to these conflicts that impact lives of millions of people.

I thank you. 

 
 

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