The Norwegian government recently underscored the anniversary of the Russian seizure of part of the independent nation of Georgia.
According to a Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs article published on August 7, 2019:
‘The conflict over Georgia’s occupied regions must not be forgotten. Eleven years on, Russian troops remain on Georgian soil and the conflict is still unresolved. Once again we call on Russia to comply with the August 2008 ceasefire agreement and pull its forces out of Georgia,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
On the night between 7 and 8 August 2008, hostilities broke out in the Georgian region of South Ossetia. Russian forces intervened on the side of the separatists and took control of areas even beyond the region of South Ossetia. The ceasefire agreement reached on 12 August 2008 included the requirement that Russian troops withdraw from the occupied territories. This requirement has not been met.
Instead, Russia has expanded and consolidated its military presence in the two occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It has recognised the two regions as independent states and has signed ‘treaties’ with these two parts of Georgia, integrating them more closely into Russia’s governance structures.
International talks on humanitarian and security-related aspects of the conflict, co-chaired by the OSCE, the EU and the UN, are held in Geneva on a regular basis.
However, the status of the two regions is not on the agenda of these talks.
For some time, one key aim has been to secure a commitment by the parties not to use force. The political leadership of Georgia has made such a commitment, but the occupied regions and Russia have not yet done so.
The human rights situation in the two regions is serious, particularly for the few ethnic Georgians still living there. International humanitarian actors and human rights mechanisms must gain unrestricted access to these regions.
Since 2003, Georgia has implemented important reforms in many sectors. In 2014, the country concluded an Association Agreement with the EU committing it to further reforms. Georgia is also seeking to further develop its partnership with NATO, with membership as its ultimate goal.
‘Our support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity remains unchanged. We also support Georgia’s right to chart its own course. So-called ‘spheres of influence’ have no place in the 21st century’, said the Minister.
‘Georgia is an important and valued partner for Norway. We want to go on deepening and broadening our bilateral cooperation, and to support Georgia’s reforms and continued integration into European and Euro-Atlantic cooperation structures. Our newly established embassy in Tbilisi will contribute to this’, said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
In talks with Georgian officials in the recent past, those officials highlighted how important bilateral relationships were with key European nations in support of their efforts to remain independent.
And in the video below published on August 8, 2019, CODA provided a look at the challenge facing Georgia.
According to CODA:
Since June, young people in the country of Georgia have been protesting on the streets of the capital, Tbilisi. Anti-government protests erupted when a legislator from Russia was invited inside the Georgian parliament, where he briefly sat down in the speaker’s chair. For many, this was seen as an affront to Georgian sovereignty and a symbol of their government’s accommodation to Russian power and influence.
Many of the protestors have worn t-shirts and wave banners that read: “20% of my country is occupied by Russia.”
In a five-day war in 2008 between Russia and Georgia, Russia took control of South Ossetia, a Georgian province in the country’s north. Russian media have largely portrayed the protests as motivated by Russophobia. For many Georgians, however, Russian occupation and the country’s economic and political influence are viewed as the latest instances of colonialism and imperialism that begins with the Red Army invading an independent Georgia in 1921.
Photographer Tako Robakidze has spent more than a year with families who live along the South Ossetia line of control, a moving border that Georgians call a “creeping occupation” because the Russian military has continually pushed deeper into Georgian territory. What is it like to live under creeping occupation? This is the question Robakidze explores in “Creeping Borders.”
The featured photo shows a column of Russian armored vehicles move through North Ossetia towards the breakaway republic of South Ossetia’s capital Tskhinvali.
In a story published on August 4, 2019, Voice of America published this article:
August marks the tenth anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Georgia, a country of less than 4 million people in the South Caucasus. The causes of the conflict between the two countries – particularly long-running disputes between Georgia and its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia – are complex, but the fact remains that on August 7th, 2008, Russia launched a full-scale land, air and sea attack against its tiny neighbor, across an internationally recognized border.
The conflict pitted 70,000 Russian troops against Georgia’s army of about 10,000 soldiers and another 10,000 reservists. Needless to say, the “war” did not last long—it was over by August 12.
In response to the Russian invasion of Georgia, France, supported by the United States and its European allies, helped broker a ceasefire agreement. The agreement was signed by then-Presidents of both countries, Mikheil Saakashvili for Georgia and Dmitriy Medvedev for Russia. Under the ceasefire agreement, Russia promised an immediate withdrawal of its forces from Georgia to their positions before the hostilities began.
Russia not only failed to live up to this and other requirements of the ceasefire agreement; On August 26th, it exacerbated the situation by recognizing Georgia’s break-away regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries. For the past ten years, Russia has occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia in violation of the ceasefire agreement.
“The United States unequivocally condemns Russia’s occupation on Georgian soil,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a May 2018 plenary session of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership. “Russia’s forcible invasion of Georgia is a clear violation of international peace and security and goes against the basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the Helsinki Final Act,” he said.
“The Russian-occupied Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are integral parts of Georgia. The United States supports Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity with its internationally recognized borders. We call on Russia to fulfill all of its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement to withdraw its forces to pre-conflict positions, [and] to reverse its recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.”