Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze has called on Russia to stop the installation of barbed wire fences along the occupation line with the Tskhinvali and Abkhazia regions. Panjikidze spoke about the situation along the occupation line in her address to the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 10 October.
"I must express our extreme concern over the critical situation in two regions of Georgia currently under the Russian occupation – the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions. As you are aware, since January 2013, the Russian occupation forces and FSB border guards have intensified the large-scale installation of barbwires and fences along the occupation line in the Tskhinvali region in the Gori, Kareli, Kaspi and Akhalgori districts. In recent months, this process has further extended. By now, the total length of barbwires along the Tskhinvali occupation line has reached 35 km and the process of arrangement is still in progress," said Panjikidze.
The Georgian Foreign Minister also said that the installation of artificial obstacles significantly affects the livelihoods of the local population.
"The installation of barbwires in the villages of the Tskhinvali region has already affected around 65 Georgian families, while several of them were forced to flee their places of residence left behind the occupation line, thus, creating a further wave of IDPs. Residents are prevented from accessing the local cemeteries, agricultural lands and potable and irrigation water systems and reaching emergency medical services.
"Russia's illegal activities cause particular concern of the Government of Georgia in the context, when Moscow continues persistent militarization of Georgia's occupied regions; fails to reciprocate the non-use of force pledge; refuses to allow the EUMM to monitor the security situation inside the occupied regions, as provided by its mandate and continues to block humanitarian access therein," Panjikidze noted.
Panjikidze has described these illegal activities as totally inconceivable against the backdrop of recent positive dynamic in the economic and cultural relations as well as a number of constructive steps undertaken by the Government of Georgia "with the aim to de-escalate and normalize relations with Russia."
"While Georgia has demonstrated its good will, and in an effort to depoliticize the Olympic games, made a difficult decision to participate in Sochi, Moscow decided to use this event for political motives and opted for a provocative manner. In the face of such destabilizing processes and provocative acts, we remain committed to our peaceful and pragmatic approach and are not going to react in a same provocative manner.
"At this forum, let me, once again call upon the Russian Federation to immediately stop and reverse the process of the barbwire and fence installation along the occupation lines in the Tskhinvali and Abkhazia regions, to comply with the 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and its commitments under international law, and cease the ongoing flagrant violations of fundamental rights and freedoms of the population residing in the occupied territories and in their vicinity," declared the Foreign Minister of Georgia.
According to Panjikidze, Georgia must redouble its efforts to restore a full-fledged and comprehensive OSCE presence on the ground, equipped with the peacekeeping and police mandates within the occupied regions.
"What can the OSCE do in response to deteriorating security and human rights situation in the occupied regions of Georgia and along the occupation line?
"It is important to further reinforce OSCE's active engagement in the implementation of concrete initiatives for the benefit of the population divided by the war aimed at meeting their humanitarian needs, building confidence and trust and facilitating reconciliation between the war-affected communities.
"The ongoing human rights violations in Georgia's occupied regions require your immediate attention and adequate measures. With the aim to prevent the further deterioration of the situation on the ground and overcome the humanitarian deadlock, we need to effectively restore an international human rights monitoring mechanism in the occupied regions," Maia Panjikidze said.