I would like to thank ASG Miroslav Jenča for the comprehensive briefing. Estonia – together with France, Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States of America raised the AOB today to draw the Council´s attention to the ongoing Russian attempt of redrawing the borders in Europe and undermining its neighbour’s sovereignty.
August 7th this year will mark 13 years since we witnessed Russia’s full-scale military aggression against Georgia, which was followed by occupation of Georgia´s integral parts – the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Regrettably, territorial integrity of Georgia continues to be violated by the Russian Federation to this day. Estonia condemns Russia’s continued illegal military presence in Georgia’s regions, in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and its steps toward annexation of these regions. Russia’s actions are in blatant violation of the fundamental norms and principles of international law.
After more than a decade into the conflict we regret the lack of progress by Russia in implementing its obligation and commitments under the Agreements of 12th August and its subsequent implementing measures of 8th September 2008. We once again call on Russia to withdraw its military and security forces without delay and reverse its recognition of the so-called independence of Georgia’s territories Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
It is deplorable that despite the Covid pandemic occupation forces have reinforced their military presence and activities on Georgian soil and strengthened their control over parts of Georgia’s territory. This was most obviously visible in last year’s decision to create a so-called ‘common socio-economic space’ between Russia and the Georgian region of Abkhazia.
We recall the landmark judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on January 21, 2021, that has stated that while in effective control of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia has been responsible for grave human rights violations including the killing of civilians, torture of prisoners of war, inhuman and degrading treatment, violation of the right to liberty and security, as well as violations of the right to freedom of movement and respect for private and family life.
Estonia remains deeply worried that in the past several years no international human rights monitoring mechanism has been granted unrestricted access to the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We therefore call for immediate unhindered access to be granted to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and other international and regional human rights mechanisms.
We also express our support for the Geneva International Discussions (GID) and the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs) as important formats to address the security, humanitarian challenges and human rights stemming from the conflict. The meetings in Gali should resume without further delay or pre-conditions.
Estonia reaffirms our unwavering support for Georgia´s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
Mr President, to conclude, it is high time for Russia to commit itself to a peaceful resolution of the conflict based on international law, including the UN Charter, and the Helsinki Final Act.