“Today marks the 12th anniversary of the Russian aggression against Georgia in August 2008. Its effects are still being felt – one-fifth of the territory of Georgia remains occupied, and hundreds of thousands of people are still unable to return to their homes and face restrictions of their fundamental rights and freedoms. Georgia continues to be the target of various Russian hybrid activities, such as disinformation campaigns and cyber-attacks,” reads the statement by the Foreign Affairs Committee chair David McAllister, the chair of the Delegation for relations with the South Caucasus Marina Kaljurand and EP rapporteur on Georgia Sven Mikser.
The MEPs underlined that, nevertheless, this shocking event only strengthened Georgia’s resolve to pursue Euro-Atlantic integration, and Georgia has firmly established itself as a reliable ally and a key partner in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood. Enhanced cooperation with the EU through the implementation of the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area as well as the visa-free travel has brought direct and tangible benefits and new opportunities to the Georgian people, according to the statement.
The European lawmakers expressed regret that the inhabitants of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia cannot benefit from the socio-economic development enjoyed by the rest of the country as both regions continue to suffer from the dire consequences of Russian occupation, despite the Georgian authorities’ readiness for dialogue, as illustrated by their ambitious “A Step to a Better Future” peace initiative.
“We reiterate our firm support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognised borders and call for a peaceful resolution of the conflict by negotiations and diplomacy, including through the full implementation of the EU-mediated ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 and the continuation of the Geneva International Discussions, the activities of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) and the efforts of the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia,” said the deputies.They added that “as the country exercising de facto control over Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia, the Russian Federation must meet its international obligations and grant the EUMM unhindered access to the occupied regions, revert the rampant “borderisation” process, and put an end to the systematic violations of human rights observed in these regions. It must also ensure the safe and dignified return of the internally displaced persons to their native lands and see that the perpetrators of crimes committed on grounds of ethnicity are brought to justice.”