Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic States at the UN General Assembly meeting on Protracted conflicts in the GUAM area and their implications for international peace, security and development
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Baltic and Nordic States: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and my own country Lithuania. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Ireland, and Poland align themselves with this statement.
With the global number of refugees and displaced persons reaching tens of millions of persons, including hundreds of thousands in Georgia, the urgency to address the needs and plight of those affected is more than evident.
The World Humanitarian Summit and UN summit for Refugees and Migrants held in 2016 have once again highlighted the crippling impact that protracted conflicts and continued displacement have on affected persons and communities, with serious repercussions at a regional and international level. Therefore we fully support the UN Secretary-General’s call for renewed efforts to prevent internal displacement, address its root causes and support affected communities.
This resolution commits us all to continue working for the protection and assistance to those who have been forcibly displaced from the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions of Georgia.
We remain concerned about the human rights situation on the ground. New restrictions on the freedom of movement and access to health care and education in the native language by the de facto authorities remains a cause of continued concern.
Regrettably, no international human rights monitoring mechanisms have been granted access to assess the situation in these regions. We share the UN SG’s call on the de facto authorities controlling the territories of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali to ensure unhindered access and operation of international organizations working on humanitarian and human rights protection issues.
We take this opportunity to reaffirm our strong support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.
We remain seriously concerned by the decision of the de facto authorities in the Georgian regions of Tskhinvali and Abkhazia to conduct the so-called elections earlier this year. Let me recall that we do not recognize the constitutional and legal framework within which these illegitimate elections have taken place. We do not recognise the so-called referendum on amending the name of the Georgian region of Tskhinvali, which was held on 9 April, 2017. These illegal actions violate Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and greatly undermine the ongoing efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
To conclude, Mr. President, we are pleased to see a growing awareness of the international community regarding the need to address internal displacement, including pressing humanitarian issues faced by the forcefully displaced persons and refugees from the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. In this context, we welcome the adoption of the resolution on the Cooperation with Georgia in the 34th session of the Human Rights Council. The need to find lasting solutions consistent with international human rights law and humanitarian law in these regions persists. Given the negative realities on the ground and the need for UN’s continuous engagement, as in previous years, we shall vote in favor of the resolution and call on others to support this resolution.
I thank you.