Dec 21, 2010

Abkhazia: Involvement of Sukhum in PACE Talks Crucial

The Russian Government considers essential that the representatives of the de facto independent republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia be invited in the PACE hearings in order to prevent the creation of further problems in the negotiations.

Below is an article published by The Voice of Russia

Russia calls for the involvement of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in PACE talks on the current situation in the Caucasus. A statement to this effect was made by Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Russian State Duma’s International Affairs Committee, during his meeting with the chairman of the PACE Monitoring Committee Dick Marty in Moscow on Monday. The meeting came ahead of the upcoming closed-door PACE hearings on the Russian-Georgian dossier.

The past couple of years have seen an about-face in PACE stance on the situation in the Caucasus, Kosachev said.

We can talk about the Council of Europe’s considerable contribution to the resolution of the respective issues, Kosachev says, citing Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg. We can also single out the PACE report on the humanitarian crisis in the Caucasus in the wake of the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia. Mapped out by the PACE Migration Committee, the report was based on an unbiased approach to the matter, which was sadly not the case with a slew of other surveys, which were earlier released by the PACE Monitoring Committee, Kosachev complains. Those reports failed to contribute to the resolution of a spate of problems that the people of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Georgia are currently dealing with. The Russian delegation hails PACE’s present push for doing more to rectify the situation in the Caucasus, Kosachev points out, adding that Moscow’s standpoint is also shared by other countries.

The 2008 Caucasus crisis began spiraling when Georgian forces launched a surprise deadly attack on South Ossetia in August of that year in a bid to regain control of its breakaway province.  The Georgian aggression caused casualties among civilians and Russian peacekeepers, who were deployed in South Ossetia in accordance with a UN mandate. Moscow was quick to send troops to the conflict zone to compel Georgia to peace. It took Russian forces five days to drive Georgian troops out of the area in a move that infuriated many in the West, who swiftly accused Moscow of a disproportionate use of force. The subsequent months, though, saw a turn-around, with Western media admitting the fact that Georgia instigated the conflict, referring to the use of force against South Ossetia.

During the Moscow talks, Kosachev specifically bemoaned the no-show of Abkhazia and South Ossetia officials at the forthcoming PACE hearings, which he said “creates additional problems for a large-scale participation of the Russian delegation in the gathering.”