EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, welcomed Georgia’s Action Plan for Engagement with its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “a significant step forward towards a policy of engagement with the populations living in the regions.”
“Reaching out to the populations is a prerequisite for finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict,” Ashton said in a statement on July 8.
The Georgian government adopted on July 3 the Action Plan, which lays out concrete proposal on how to implement Georgia’s State Strategy on Occupied Territories, adopted by the government in January, 2010.
“The EU is ready to contribute to these efforts in line with its non-recognition and engagement policy and fully supports the approach based on confidence building and facilitation of people to people contacts as well as freedom of movement,” Ashton said.
“The Action Plan should create a permissive and enabling environment, including for international organisations and non-governmental organisations active in conflict regions,” she said. “The EU reiterates its firm support for the security and stability of Georgia, based on full respect for the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity recognised by international law."
Meanwhile, EU’s special representative for South Caucuses, Peter Semneby, told OSCE Permanent Council on July 8, that there was “a clear need” for the international community to remain fully engaged in the South Caucasus region, “given the high stakes involved.”
He said that addressing unresolved conflicts in the region remained a priority for the EU and said those conflicts were “the primary threats to the region's stability since the status quo is inherently unstable and contains dangers of escalation.” Semneby also said that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was of “particular concern.”
“The protracted conflicts also undermine EU efforts to promote political reform and economic development in its Eastern neighbourhood,” he said.