In Quotes: European Parliament Debate on Georgia Resolution
The European Parliament is to adopt a non-binding resolution on Georgia on June 14, titled “Georgian Occupied Territories Ten Years after the Russian Invasion.” MEPs debated the resolution yesterday, preceded with a statement of Federica Mogherini, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Below is a compilation of some of the speeches of European politicians.
David McAllister (Germany, European People’s Party): As we have already heard this afternoon, following the war in 2008, Russia has made deeply concerning steps towards the de facto annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, thereby undermining international law and violating the EU-mediated ceasefire agreement. As one of the initiators of this resolution, let me point out that the European Parliament should seize the opportunity to fully support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. In my view, three actions by Russia are required in order for the conflict to be solved. Firstly, Moscow should unconditionally fulfil all the provisions of the ceasefire agreement, especially the commitment to withdraw its military forces and guarantee the EU Monitoring Mission access to the occupied territories. Secondly, Moscow should cease the borderization of the administrative boundary line and refrain from advancing further into the Georgian territory. Thirdly, the expulsion of Georgian citizens, human rights abuses and discrimination on ethnic grounds must end. Dear colleagues, this is a frozen conflict, but it should not be a forgotten conflict.
Cristian Dan Preda (Romania, European People’s Party): What happened in 2008 was the invasion of the neighboring country, an independent neighboring country and ten years after that, Russia is doing everything it can on the ground to have a de facto annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which flouts all principles of international law. It is unacceptable and we have to also bear in mind that before this invasion, unfortunately, it was impossible to take the decision to let Georgia let join in NATO and that is, unfortunate, I think it was down to the lack of solidarity and short-sightedness.
Clare Moody (United Kingdom, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats): 10 years have passed since the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. Yet, the Russian Federation continues its illegal occupation of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia. The regime continues to deny access to the vital and constructive EU monitoring mission, and human rights monitors from the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, in the occupied regions. Russia has intensified its military build-up in both areas including the stationing of fully operational military bases. Illegal detentions and kidnappings continue to take place, undermining international law and violating human rights. Crossing points over the so-called occupation line have been closed, aggravating the humanitarian situation and further isolating the regions. The S&D Group strongly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, while the resolution of this conflict is crucial to enhancing security and stability across Europe. We must demonstrate our solidarity with the citizens of the occupied regions and support our Georgian colleagues’ peace initiative – ‘A Step to a Better Future’. I hope that despite 10 years of occupation, we can help to achieve better relations between those kept apart by the fences of the occupied regions and the rest of Georgia.
Charles Tannock (United Kingdom, European Conservatives and Reformists): Ten years on since the end of the war between Georgia and Russia, which left a frozen conflict over Russian occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it is clear that the two countries have taken a very distinctly different path – one a democratic one, and another an authoritarian one. As a long-standing friend of Georgia, I stand with the EU in commending the country’s transition away from its Soviet past and towards a free, democratic one with Euro-Atlantic aspirations, an open state with an open society. I especially praise Georgia’s dedication to modernizing its defense capabilities, and its close cooperation with international partners in seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Russia, by contrast, continues to undermine the international rules-based system through his actions in Georgia, and I might also add in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Its breach of the 2008 EU-mediated ceasefire agreement by engaging in ethnic cleansing, placing physical borders between Georgia and the occupied regions, engaging in borderization and more, needs to be condemned in the strongest terms. I reaffirm my groups support to the territorial integrity of Georgia and truly hope for a peaceful resolution of this conflict. This, however, must first begin with Russia fully acknowledging and acting on its international law and human rights obligations.
Anna Fotyga (Poland, European Conservatives and Reformists): During Bucharest NATO summit, the future membership of Georgia was agreed. Five months later, Russia questioned this decision by use of force and the occupation of territories of Georgia. Thanks to rapid trip of CEE leaders, led by the late President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, further Russia’s gains in Georgia were prevented. Now we stand by Georgia. We support the country’s European and transatlantic vocation, peace initiatives and the request for sanctions list condemning and punishing the targeted killings of Georgian citizens, in particular Otkhozoria and Tatunashvili. We also praise the EUMM role in Georgia. During two SEDE missions to Georgia we were able also to monitor the territories adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and we are very much concerned about situation of people living there.
Sajjad Karim (United Kingdom, European Conservatives and Reformists Group): Madam High Representative, you speak about the realities on the ground and you say we recognize and react accordingly. The realities on the ground today mean that a body can be returned without the organs inside. The realities mean that the actions of others should dictate our thoughts, and our thoughts should become our words, and our words our actions. I put my name to this resolution today, as chair of the respective committee from this Parliament, because we as a parliament are absolutely clear: this is an occupation. High Representative, your words were lacking today, yet again in this regard. Follow the lead of this House, you are a sister institution. This is an occupation in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Our sister institutions must recognize that. If you cannot do that today when you once again address this parliament, please make sure that at least your institution starts to backup the true feelings of the European Union.
Petras Auštrevičius (Lithuania, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe): 10 years ago, when Russia launched its invasion of Georgia, many in the free world were tempted to see it as an isolated accident. Far too many were tempted to continue business as usual with the Kremlin. The much larger invasion of Ukraine just few years later showed the colossal price of such wishful thinking. Had we woken up in 2008, a lot of trouble could have been avoided. Today, as we express solidarity with Georgia, I call on this House to support the Georgian Parliament’s decision to sanction Russian officials directly responsible for grave human rights abuses in the occupied territories, including the recent murders of Georgian citizens – the Otkhozoria and Tatunashvili list. Finally, Georgia too must stick to its political obligations. I therefore appeal to Tbilisi to respect fully the decision of last November of the European Court of Human Rights on the former Prime Minister, Vano Merabishvili.
Heidi Hautala (Finland, Greens/European Free Alliance): When we look back to 08.08.08, we can see that it was a turning point in the international order and it was a day when we should have realized that Russia was going to even more continue to violate countries in which it used to belong, to the Soviet Union. What we could see that in 2014, the Crimea was illegally occupied and Russia started to support war in east Ukraine. So, I think we should have understood even better that 08.08.08 was a turning point and it should have been a wake‑up call. Now, I believe that a very useful way to look at these kinds of occupied regions in our Eastern neighborhood is to take the human rights lens. And what you see is that people living in these ‘breakaway’ or ‘occupied’ regions they are denied their basic human rights. They have no chance to express their will and their wishes freely, they have no right to education in their native language and I think we have to praise the peace initiative that Georgia has undertaken – ‘A Step to a Better Future’ whereby they invite the people living in these occupied areas to enjoy certain human rights like health, education and so on.