14 Apr 2018 - 21:42
Georgia’s package of proposals to improve the lives of residents in Georgia’s regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has been welcomed at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting held in Vienna on April 12.
Georgian First Deputy Foreign Minister David Dondua’s address to the Permanent Council garnered statements of support from several countries including the US.
Michele Siders, Acting Deputy Chief of the US mission at the OSCE, said the United States welcomes measures taken by Georgia which help address the needs of vulnerable populations on both sides of the administrative boundary lines.
She also thanked Dondua for sharing his assessment of the situation on the ground and the challenges facing participants in the Geneva International Discussions to which the United States remains strongly committed.
She underlined United States’ condemnation of the tragic death of Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili following his arrest and detention in South Ossetia in February and the unacceptable delay in the return of his remains.
"The United States cited [this] tragic death as the most recent example underscoring the immediate need for international mechanisms to improve security and stability on the ground,” Michele Siders said, adding that the United States hopes the Geneva International Discussions can produce tangible progress towards lasting peace and security, as well as improvements in the lives of the affected populations.
According to her, the United States regrets that participants were again not able to discuss the issue of internally displaced persons because of Russia’s walk-out from Working Group II.
"For almost 10 years, Russia has sought to create an alternate reality. While Georgia seeks opportunities for engagement with people living in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia maintains relations with two fictitious countries as a ruse to control and occupy regions of a neighboring sovereign state,” Siders said, promising that the US will continue to use the Permanent Council and other fora to hold Russia accountable for its violation of international law and to expose Russia’s attempts to ‘distort the truth and rewrite history’.
Moreover, the United States urges Russia to withdraw its forces to pre-war positions per the 2008 ceasefire agreement and reverse its purported recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in addition to the US representative, Georgia received supportive statements from the representatives of Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Armenia while the statement made on behalf of the EU was joined by representatives of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, FYROM, Lichtenstein, Montenegro, Ukraine and Moldova.