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Statement by State Secretary Janez Lenarčič on behalf of the EU Council: Deterioration of the Situation in Georgia

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Dear Members of the European Parliament,

I am pleased that the European Parliament decided to place the issue of Georgia on its agenda since the relations between this country and the Russian Federation (RF) are very unstable. In the Council, we are following the situation very closely. The General Affairs and External Relations Council had a discussion on Georgia on 29 April. Yesterday, this issue was discussed by the Political and Security Committee as well.

On 2 May, the Presidency responded by publishing a declaration on behalf of the EU on the escalation of tension between Georgia and Russia. High representative for the common foreign and security policy Solana spoke twice with President Saakashvili (on 16 and 29 April), and, on 30 April, he also had a meeting with Georgian Special Envoy Bakradze. The Presidency discussed latest developments with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov during the EU troika meeting with Russia in Luxembourg.

Allow me to stress that the EU remains seriously concerned by the recent series of events that have raised tensions between Georgia and the Russian Federation. We are particularly worried because of:

  • the announcement to increase the number of CIS peacekeepers in Abkhazia and to establish 15 additional check-points along the administrative boundary-line;
  • the downing of a Georgian unmanned aerial vehicle in Georgian airspace on 20 April, and
  • the decision of the Russian Federation to establish official ties with institutions of de facto authorities in South Ossetia and Abkhazia without the consent of the Government of Georgia.

The EU reiterates its firm commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders as reaffirmed in the UNSC resolution 1808. Thus, the EU continues to support international efforts towards a peaceful settlement of the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts. In particular, we encourage the endeavours of the United Nations, supported by the UN Secretary General's Group of Friends, and of the OSCE.

The EU has called on all sides to refrain from any steps that could increase tensions and has urged the sides to take action to rebuild confidence. In this light, the EU welcomes the fact that the Georgian President has put forward a new initiative for the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Abkhazia. We hope that it will contribute to a constructive dialogue on the issue. In this regard, the efforts of the European Union Special Representative and the European Commission in building confidence in support of conflict resolution in Georgia will continue.

The EU also welcomes the fact that Russia has decided to work on normalisation of its ties with Georgia in some areas. This would lead to lifting of visa restrictions to Georgian citizens, renewing of postal links and other positive measures.

As far as internal situation of Georgia is concerned, I would like to express hope on behalf of the EU that the forthcoming parliamentary elections on 21 May will be free and fair. It is important that the Georgian authorities take all necessary measures to build the trust of the public in the conduct of the elections. In this context, we welcome the launch of an electoral assistance programme funded by the Instrument for Stability. We also value the Polish offer to make the Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland available as a facilitator in the dialogue between government and opposition.

All political parties in Georgia, government and opposition alike, must do their utmost to improve the polarised climate in Georgia and to establish a truly democratic political culture.

May I conclude by underlining the crucial importance of free and independent media for democracy-building. Equal access of representatives of government and opposition to the media is one of the prerequisites for free and fair elections.


Dear Members of the European Parliament,

I am looking forward to hearing your views on the situation in Georgia.

Thank you very much.

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Date: 07.05.2008