EU Ambassador to Georgia urges S. Ossetian authorities to reopen crossing points
EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Harzel calls on the South Ossetian authorities to reopen all checkpoints to ensure the free movement of people across the dividing lines.
Hartzel said that for the past two years, ethnic Georgians in the Akhalgori (Leningor in South Ossetia) region of South Ossetia have been unable to cross the administrative border and meet their relatives, receive pensions, and study in their own language.
Akhalgori region adjoins the separation line in the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. It is populated entirely by ethnic Georgians but is controlled by the de facto authorities of South Ossetia. The area was part of the South Ossetian Autonomous Region of Georgia during the USSR period. South Ossetia declared its independence from Georgia in the early 1990s, which was followed by a bloody conflict.
After the Georgian-Russian war in this zone in August 2008, Moscow recognized South Ossetia (and Abkhazia) as independent states, along with four other countries – Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, and Syria. Georgia considers both territories to be its integral part, and this it is supported by the rest of the international community.
The crossing from Akhalgori was closed by the authorities of South Ossetia on September 4, 2019, in response to the construction of the Georgian police post of the Vlsze village of Chorchana-Tsneli.
As a result of the closure of the Akhalgori checkpoint, the local population can no longer move into the territory controlled by Georgia. Consequently, they do not receive medical care and do not have access to essential medicines.
Prior to that, while the checkpoints were open, an average of 400 trips were made daily.
According to the EU ambassador, the recent simplification of procedures for the transportation of medical supplies from the Akhalgori region was a welcome development.
“The EU is convinced that a sensible and adequate COVID-19 testing strategy can be implemented to ensure greater freedom of movement, and calls on the de facto authorities in South Ossetia and the Russian Federation to open all border crossing points for South Ossetia”, the statement said.
According to Hartzel, the EU Monitoring Mission is ready to “facilitate further discussions within the Ergneti Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism”.
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The Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civil Equality of Georgia has published a list of assistance provided by the Georgian side to Sukhumi and Tskhinvali in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
• Near the demarcation line, the Rukh hospital was opened to provide free medical care to the population living in the occupied territories.
• Despite the restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has not suspended various medical services for people living in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
• Information materials on Covid-19, as well as protocols and guidelines prepared by the National Center for Disease Control, have been translated and distributed in Abkhaz and Ossetian languages.
• Information on the official website www.stopcov.ge is available in Abkhaz and Ossetian languages.
• Georgian specialists regularly conduct online consultations with local doctors to share their experience. With the support of the Georgian authorities, a mission of the World Health Organization arrived in Abkhazia to assess the situation on the ground and make recommendations.
• To combat the pandemic, the Georgian government and international organizations regularly supply medical equipment, medicines and hygiene items to Abkhazia.