08 June 2012, 23:00

Joint statement of representatives of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia at Geneva Discussions on wrongfulness of using the terms "occupation" and "occupied territories" in relation to South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Representatives of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia hereby note that within the 20th round of Geneva Discussions on security and stability issues in Transcaucasia, a discussion was held on the wrongfulness of using the terms "occupation" and "occupied territories" in relation to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, among other things, also from the viewpoint of the norms and principles of the international law.

Representatives of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia hereby remind that in August 2008 the regime of M. Saakashvili unleashed an aggression against South Ossetia, which entailed hundreds of deaths, including Russian peacemakers, who were in South Ossetia in accordance with the international mandate.

Representatives of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia express their satisfaction that, despite the remaining differences in approaches of the participants of Geneva Discussions to using the term "occupation", the comprehensive joint consideration of this topic with involvement of independent experts in the sphere of international law has conclusively shown: the stay of the contingents of Russian armed forces in the territories of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia in no case can be regarded as "occupation", while these two countries in no case can be regarded as "occupied territories".

A mandatory attribute of the occupation regime is execution by armed forces of one country of the efficient control over the territory and population of the other country. The international humanitarian law usually treats the "efficient control" as the execution by the occupational troops of administrative and police functions in the respective territory, and also adoption by them of normative acts mandatory for the local population. Another important criterion is also a distribution of occupational forces over the whole occupied territory, which really allows keeping it under direct control.

The situation with the stay of Russian militaries in the territories of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia cannot match either of the above criteria. Russian servicemen are compactly accommodated within the territories of their military bases; they do not interfere with the life of the local population; they do not issue any legal prescriptions; and execute no police or administrative functions. Thus, the Russian armed forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia cannot be treated as "occupation troops". There is also no regime of the so-called "occupation" in the sense of the common international law and the international humanitarian law.

The complete efficient control over the territories of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia is executed by their legally elected authorities. The presidential and parliamentary elections in Abkhazia and South Ossetia held in 2009, 2011 and 2012 have confirmed the democratic character, openness and legitimacy of electoral processes in both countries, which was registered and acknowledged by international observers.

It should be specially emphasized that the authorities of Sukhumi and Tskhinvali had executed efficient control over their territories and population long before the 2008 events and recognition of Abkhazia and of South Ossetia as sovereign and independent states. The placement of Russian military bases in the territory of both countries has in no way changed this situation. These bases have been deployed in Abkhazia and of South Ossetia based on bilateral agreements with Russia.

The desire of Georgian authorities to artificially bring the term "occupied territories" into circulation is nothing more but a propaganda trick. It has nothing to do with the current political realities in Southern Caucasus and has the only aim to mislead the world public.

Representatives of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia are hereby urging, with account of the exchange of opinions that took place in Geneva, all the subjects of the international law to refrain in the future from using the term "occupation" in relation to the stay of the units of Russian armed forces in the territories of Abkhazia and of South Ossetia, as well as other similar terms, since they are groundless both from the legal and factual viewpoints.

Representatives of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia are hereby expressing hope that the partners at the Geneva Discussions on the issues of security and stability in Transcaucasia will also follow this recommendation, which will contribute to the constructive atmosphere and successful operation of this international negotiation format.

Geneva,

July 8, 2012

Source: IA "Res"

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