Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili addressed the general debate of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York earlier today. In her speech she said Georgia is “a small country, on the edge of Europe”, it is “one of the democratic countries of the world” and its main challenge and priority is peace.
Speaking of its contribution to the peace missions in Afghanistan, Mali and Central Africa, President Zurabishvili said “war and conflicts have been part of our history”.
She said the resilience “is still our answer when confronting the tragedy” of a war with Russia in August 2008, which was followed by the occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) regions.
I have to speak out here on the plight of our people living on the administrative boundary line that divides relatives and villages, where incidents and provocations have become constant, where illegal borderisation is actively pursued, preventing normal peaceful life… I have to speak out for our IDP’s and refugees that for now decades have been unable to return to their homes and land”, she stated.
Zurabishvili further noted that Georgian citizens in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali are afcing continuous violations of human rights, restrictions to freedom of movement, as well as access to health and education services.
She then "warned the world” that in the occupied Abkhazia, not only Georgian but Abkhaz language and identity are “on the verge of disappearance” and that “Abkhazian people suffer a drastic demographic reduction”.
Zurabishvili stated that Georgia remains committed to its peace policy, but “when we talk about the goal of peace and about ending conflict and occupation, we have also to act”.
President Zurabishvili considers that the existing formats should “move from experts to a real political negotiation”. In particular, she said “political will from all sides is needed” to make the Geneva International Discussions “an instrument for solving the conflict and not solely managing it”.
Every forum and dialogue, formal or informal, should be used to engage Russia in discussions on the strict implementation of the ceasefire agreement, on allowing the EUMM, as was agreed, to monitor the whole of the territory. For de-escalation on the occupation line is our first priority that should pave the way towards an effective settlement”, Zurabishvili said in her UNGA address.
Salome Zurabishvili leads the Georgian delegation to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. The Georgian delegation includes Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, Minister of Health and Labour Ekaterine Tikaradze and Georgian legislators.