On December 8, during the 24th meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council, the Group of Friends of Georgia issued a statement on the conflict in Georgia. The statement was delivered on behalf of Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
In the statement, the Friends of Georgia nations reaffirm their “full support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” as well as for the country’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration.
They also express concern over the continued Russian occupation of the Georgian territories and call upon the Russian Federation to “fully implement the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, inter alia to withdraw its military forces from the occupied territories of Georgia.”
The Friends of Georgia are also concerned about the Russian military build-up in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, and “condemn the gross violations of rights related to freedom of movement, residence, property, as well as right to education in one’s native language and underline that the so called borderization ... further aggravates the humanitarian situation on the ground.”
The statement specifically condemns “the intensified ethnic discrimination in the Georgian regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” including “recent mass demolition of houses of Georgian IDPs in Eredvi village, South Ossetia, Georgia, under the Russian Investment program that is an illustration of purposeful policy to completely erase the traces of ethnic Georgian population from the occupied territories.”
The Friends of Georgia nations also express support for “the fundamental right of IDPs and refugees to return to the places of their origin in safety and dignity.”
Sec. Tillerson & #FriendsOfGeorgia at #OSCEMC17.— U.S. Mission to OSCE (@usosce) December 7, 2017
The US fully supports #Georgia’s sovereignty & territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders and rejects #Russia’s recognition of #Abkhazia & #SouthOssetia. pic.twitter.com/Pmuvugx23w
One day before the statement was issued, following the Friends of Georgia meeting on the sidelines of the Ministerial Council, U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson said “the U.S. strongly supports Georgia’s membership in NATO and we look forward to completing all the steps for that to happen,” while the U.K. Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Alan Duncan stressed the British support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.