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Statement by Mr. Gert Auväärt, Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN at the Roundtable for Lasting Peace and Security – 10 years since 2008 Russia-Georgia War, 6 August 2018

06.08.2018

In August 2008, Russian military aggression gravely violated Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Estonia is deeply concerned that ten years onward Russia continues the illegal occupation of the territories of Georgia and the employment of methods and tools of the “creeping” annexation. Military build-up on the occupied territories, and human rights restrictions set on people in Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain to this day unresolved and troublesome.

In this regard, we welcome the Georgian Government’s commitment to dialogue and reconciliation in order to improve the lives of people living in these regions. We consider the recent adoption of a peace initiative “A Step to a Better Future” as an important effort in the right direction and encourage all sides to engage with the initiative. The role of the international monitoring mission, the European Monitoring Mission in Georgia, remains equally essential as well as the platform of dialogue provided by the Geneva International Discussions. Estonia fully supports Georgia’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict that is directed towards the de-occupation of Georgian regions and reconciliation of communities divided by occupation lines.

The consequences of 2008 Russian military invasion in Georgia extended, however, beyond Georgian borders. The illegal attempt to redraw the borders in Europe by force for the first time in the 21st century constitutes a direct attack against the rules-based international order agreed on in the aftermath of the WW II, and gravely damages the security and stability of the region.

On this anniversary, it is crucial that the international community keeps defending the fundamental norms of international law and keeps reminding Russia its obligation to abide by the cease-fire agreement of 12 August 2008. It is necessary that we keep urging Russia to withdraw its forces to pre-war positions and to contribute to the establishment of an international peacekeeping force as stipulated by the agreement. We believe a dialogue conducted in good faith and constructive manner can bring a peaceful solution to the conflict.

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