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Minister for Europe David Lidington has expressed concern at an agreement between Russia and Georgian breakaway region South Ossetia.
The so-called treaty was signed by Russia and the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia today and represents further infringement of Georgian sovereignty, following the signing in November 2014 of a similar so-called agreement between Russia and Abkhazia, Georgia’s other breakaway region.
Speaking after the signing, David Lidington said:
Both this so-called treaty and the one signed towards the end of last year by Russia with Abkhazia, will only complicate vital regional peace-building efforts, and create further obstacles to progress at the long-running Geneva talks on regional security and the non-use of force in the region.
This is yet more evidence of Russian interference in the affairs of its neighbours and demonstrates a blatant disregard for their sovereignty and territorial integrity. Similar interference has led to the terrible situation we see in Ukraine. The UK remains firm in its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and I call on Russia to fulfil all of its 2008 ceasefire commitments, including removing its troops from South Ossetia to pre-conflict positions. It is also important that the representatives of the European Union observer mission have access to areas of Georgia’s breakaway regions.
Notes to editors
The so-called treaty between South Ossetia and Russia was signed in Moscow today by President Putin and de facto President Leonid Tibilov.
On 24 November 2014, in Sochi, President Putin and de facto Abkhaz President Khadzhimba signed an “Agreement on Alliance and Strategic Partnership” between Russia and Abkhazia marking the further Russian assimilation of the territory.
The “treaty” included provision for a new joint force of Russian and Abkhaz troops and further harmonisation of defence and foreign policy. Following signature of the document, Russia announced that Russian aid to Abkhazia for 2015-17 would increase to Rb9bn (c$130m).
Since 2008, an international mediation process began over Georgia’s breakaway regions – Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Geneva talks, as they are known, are the only forum which brings together all parties to the conflict and are co-chaired by the EU, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and UN. The talks focus on a number of areas including improving security in the region, freedom of movement, the situation of Internally Displaced Persons, and approaches to common cultural heritage.
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