Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2009-10-22-Speech-4-052"

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"Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, representatives of the Commission, we welcome the impartial and independent investigation of, and the subsequent report on, the 2008 conflict in Georgia, conducted by the International Fact-Finding Mission headed by the Swiss diplomat, Heidi Tagliavini. Before the outbreak of hostilities in South Ossetia on the night of 7 to 8 August 2008, which claimed many civilian lives, we had been witnesses to months of provocation from all sides. The Russian military intervention, including its invasion of Georgia, was disproportionate and unjustified. Both sides to the conflict were guilty of breaches of international humanitarian law, which has also been confirmed by the report and by various organisations, such as Human Rights Watch. What are we to do now? Russia must fully honour the peace accord. First of all, it must withdraw from the areas it has occupied since 7 August 2008. It should provide immediate, free and unlimited access to South Ossetia to members of the EU Monitoring Mission and international agencies, including the UN, so that they are able to supervise the ceasefire and deliver humanitarian aid. Approximately 25 - 30 000 Georgians remain displaced in South Ossetia and the authorities of South Ossetia must facilitate their return to their homes. Georgia’s territorial integrity must remain beyond question. There are, however, worrying signs of authoritarianism in Georgia. The abuse of the legal system by President Saakashvili, the mounting hostility towards any opposing views, the steadily diminishing freedom of speech and the sometimes confrontational nationalist rhetoric are all to Georgia’s detriment. Georgia will only be able to return to the pro-European and democratic path and become attractive to other countries in the region if it upholds the ideals it embraced during the Rose Revolution. All actors should avail themselves of the opportunities presented by the Geneva negotiations. The situation in the Caucasus must be given serious attention at the next EU-Russia Summit."@en1

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