EU condemns Russian-installed barbed wire fences

The barbwire that divides Russian-backed South Ossetia from Georgia. vano shlamov/Agence France-Presse, 30 Apr 2014 - 16:43, Tbilisi,Georgia

The European Union is expressing its concern at the continuing installation of barbed wire fences and other artificial obstacles by the Russian Federation near the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

This was the first time it had been mentioned that Russia had unlawfully erected makeshift borders within the EU Secretary General's Statement, which was the ninth consolidated report on the conflict in Georgia.

The statement expressed the EU's concern at continued violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of those residing within the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and in adjacent areas. 

The statement said violations included, but were not limited to violating a person's freedom of movement, the right to property, the right to family life, the right to have an education in their native language and other basic rights, which were caused by the installation of barbed wire fences and other artificial obstacles by the Russian Federation.

The Russian Federation first recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states on August 26 2008.  

Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs believed the EU reiterated its firm support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders.  

"It was the greatest success of Georgia. The statement focused that Russia has not fulfilled its international commitments and obligations that is very important for us,” Minister Maia Panjikidze said.  

The Georgian delegation made a statement during the meeting, which focused on the current situation in Georgia's occupied territories. The Georgian delegation called upon the Council of Europe's member states to take timely and effective measures to stop Russia's illegal activities. 

The statement also read that the EU reiterated its concern about the continuing Russian military and security-related presence and infrastructure reinforcements in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Council of Europe stressed the importance of removing the obstacles which violated human rights and fundamental freedoms.  

The EU also called on Russia to fully adhere to the ceasefire agreement of August 12 2008 and of the September 8 Implementing Measures of the six-point agreement, which included providing the EU Monitoring Mission with access to the breakaway regions.  

The statement underlined the importance of the right of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to a safe, dignified and voluntary return.

"The EU encourages the full implementation of the revised law on IDPs which has been in force since 1 March 2014,” read the statement. 

The EU delegation of the European Union to the Council of Europe decided to continue regular discussions surrounding the protection of human rights in the areas affected by the conflict in Georgia, and encouraged the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to continue submitting his biannual  reports to the Committee of Ministers.It was only Russian representative that cast doubt in the effectiveness of the report.  

Meanwhile, the GUAM member states also welcomed the report and stressed the importance of keeping the issue high on the political agenda on the Council of Europe.