Georgian Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, said he was “tremendously, very disappointed” with the decision of the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) not to consider Georgia’s case against Russia on its merit.
“I am tremendously disappointed, very disappointed, because my impression as a lawyer – I am not speaking as a minister right now, but as a lawyer – the court tried to find some kind of excuse not to consider the case,” Vashadze at a press conference in the UN headquarters in New York on April 1.
He said that ICJ’s argument behind its decision not to progress Georgia’s application against Russia to the merit phase was “totally ridiculous.”
“Russia and Georgia have been engaged in bilateral and multilateral talks since 1991, when Russia started undeclared war against my country and to cite this reason, absence of bilateral talks as something ICJ doesn't want to consider Georgia's case for, is absolutely, totally ridiculous,” Vashadze said.
ICJ ruled on April 1 that “it has no jurisdiction to entertain the application filed by Georgia on the 12th of August, 2008” in which Georgia claimed that Russia violated its obligations under the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) during three distinct phases of its interventions in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the period from 1990 to August 2008.
The Court took this decision after upholding one of the arguments by Moscow, which claimed that Georgia neither attempted to negotiate specifically CERD-related matters with the Russian Federation nor used other mode of dispute resolution contained in Article 22 of CERD before referring the case directly to ICJ on August 12, 2008.
The Georgian Foreign Minister also said this decision by ICJ was “a wonderful example” of “why we are living in the world we are living.”
“Russia being a permanent member of the [UN] Security Council is another good demonstration, an example why we live in the world we live, when they [Russia] have been selling or granting arms to… somebody like Gaddafi and now those weapons are killing civilians and the international community has to take an action,” Vashadze said.
His remarks were in contrast from the comments, which other Georgian officials were making in Tbilisi after the ICJ ruling was announced.
In their comments to the Georgian media and also in a written English-language statement released by the Georgian government the ICJ argument based on which it declined to discuss the application on merit was described as “a procedural technicality”, which would be addressed and resolved in order to then pave the way for resubmitting the case to the Court. Instead officials were making more focus on another aspect of the ICJ’s ruling in which the Court dismissed Russia’s argument that there had not be no dispute whatsoever between Georgia and Russia on CERD-related issues.
“We welcome the Court’s rejection of a core argument put forward by the Russian Federation that no dispute exists on the grounds of ethnic discrimination and ethnic cleansing,” Tina Burjaliani, the Georgian deputy justice minister said.
Senior lawmaker from the ruling party, Akaki Minashvili, said that the Court’s ruling was “a success” for the Georgian side.
“I want to congratulate the success to the Georgian side,” said MP Minashvili, who chairs the parliamentary committee for foreign affairs. “The Court said that although it has a jurisdiction, the proceeding of the case was suspending because of technical reasons; the Court thinks that possibility for negotiations between Georgia and Russia was not exhausted before the August, 2008 [when Georgia referred the case to ICJ].”