20 July, 2006
The European Union refers to recent developments in the South Ossetian zone of conflict in Georgia and to the Resolution of the Georgian Parliament on Peacekeeping Forces Stationed in the Conflict Zones, which was adopted on 18 July 2006.
Further to the Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on recent developments in Georgia - South Ossetia of 21 February, the European Union reiterates its support for a peaceful resolution of the territorial conflicts in Georgia, based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders. The European Union welcomes the initiatives taken to this effect, as reflected in the decisions of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Ljubljana in December 2005, and stands ready to contribute actively to the peace processes.
The European Union is satisfied at the outcome of the OSCE-sponsored donors' conference on South Ossetia, held on 14 June in Brussels. It hopes that the programmes of economic rehabilitation agreed there will strengthen mutual confidence between the parties. It also welcomes plans to send a UN fact-finding mission regarding the possible deployment of an international police force to Abkhazia as soon as possible.
The European Union is deeply concerned about continuing tension between Georgia and Russia and recent incidents in South Ossetia, which do not contribute to stability and freedom of movement. The European Union is particularly worried by the recent closure of the only recognized border crossing between Georgia and the Russian Federation. The European Union emphasises the importance of ensuring freedom of movement of goods and people, in particular by keeping the border crossing at Zemo Larsi open.
The Union condemns violence in all its forms. It also reminds parties that detentions, violence and threatening of OSCE observers, diplomatic personnel and others performing agreed functions related to the peacekeeping operations and conflict resolution efforts are unacceptable.
The European Union urges the parties to make full use of the existing negotiating mechanisms and to do their utmost to promote stability and peaceful development in the region. In this connection, the European Union regrets the cancellation of the meeting of the Joint Control Commission on South Ossetia, scheduled for 17-18 July.
While emphasizing the need to increase the effectiveness of the negotiating and peacekeeping in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the European Union invites all parties to start dialogue on the basis of the existing mechanisms, in order to explore the possibilities for improvement.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.