Hadja Lahbib went on Wednesday to Odzissi, a village located on the demarcation line between Georgia and South Ossetia, a secessionist region which declared its independence in 1992 alongside Abkhazia and which enjoys the active support of the Russia.
This visit, carried out on the second day of a mission by the head of diplomacy to the South Caucasus, comes on the same day that the Vice-President of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, raised the possibility of an intervention by Moscow in order to annex these two separatist regions where the population of Russian origin is important.
The Minister had earlier in the day held talks with her Georgian counterpart and representatives of the European Union in Georgia, including the Head of the EU Monitoring Mission, Dimitrios Karabalis. Set up in 2008, this unarmed civilian mission is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the agreement that ended the second war in South Ossetia.
“There is a frozen conflict that has gone on for too long, with people suffering and climate or energy challenges that have come to a halt because of these wars and the obstacles put by neighboring powers, mainly Russia. Time is running out to resolve these conflicts that impoverish people. We are on the front line, people have left because they no longer have any hope of living in peace. The populations claim peace, respect for their integrity, their values, their beliefs. Within the European Union, it is this respect that we stand for,” said Ms. Lahbib.
Alongside a member of Georgian State Security, the minister was able to observe the situation on the occupation line, as the Georgians define it, along which Russian bases are installed. One of them, where the Russian tricolor flag flies, is visible from Ozdissi.
On the night of August 7 to 8, 2008, the Russian army intervened in Georgia to come to the aid of South Ossetia against which Tbilisi had launched a military operation. Within days, it routed the Georgian army and threatened to take the capital Tbilisi.
A peace agreement allowed the withdrawal of Russian troops, but Moscow recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and has maintained a military presence there ever since.
“The idea of joining Russia is still popular in Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” the former Russian president and prime minister wrote in an article published on the “aif.ru” website (Argoumenty i Fakty – Arguments and Facts). “It could very well be implemented if there are good reasons for it. »
“We knew for a long time that Russia was an aggressor, we know that and the whole world knows that,” Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibachvili told reporters.
“Our main challenge is to put an end to this occupation,” he added, while insisting on the need to reach a “peaceful” solution to the problem.
Since 2016, an association agreement has linked Georgia and the EU. In December, the European Council must decide on granting this country the status of candidate for EU membership after a report from the European Commission expected in October on the consideration of European priorities. Georgia also aspires to join NATO, a prospect in which the Alliance formally refused to commit in 2008.
“The various meetings that I had go in the direction of a sincere and very powerful desire to be part of the European Union”, underlined Ms. Lahbib, insisting on the wish of a very large part of the population Georgian to join the EU. “Coming here is to strengthen our ties and this desire to join. We must hear it and also be the relay when we return to Brussels. »
This article is originally published on sudinfo.be