Georgia’s lawsuit in the Hague court gets underway
By Messenger Staff
Thursday, September 16The Hague International court has begun its hearing of the Georgian lawsuit against the Russian Federation, on the grounds of alleged ethnic cleansing carried out by the Russian Federation on Georgian territory from 1993 up to 2008. The Georgian state accuses the Russian Federation of annexing Georgian territories by means of ethnic discrimination, ethnic cleansing and violating human rights of the Georgian population. The hearings will take place in September 13-17 after which the court will announce its verdict. However this decision might not be finalised for several months. Meanwhile, Russia is trying to frustrate the court hearing and is doing its utmost to achieve this goal. There are different charges against the Russian Federation, submitted to the Hague court by the state of Georgia. It is based on essential human rights protection principles which are adopted worldwide. Georgia will produce numerous pieces of evidence in an attempt to prove that, starting from the early 1990's, and culminating in the military intervention of August 2008, that Russia was facilitating and assisting Abkhazian and South Ossetian separatist forces. In particular, the Georgians claim that Russia was encouraging the ethnic cleansing of the Georgian population. Providing separatists with arms and ammunitions, hiring mercenaries, introducing Russian military forces and conducting military intervention. All of which eventually resulted in crimes carried out against the peaceful Georgian civilian population.
The Preliminary hearing did not accept Georgia’s claims for the withdrawal of Russian forces form Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region and the return of refugees as well as paying compensation to Georgia. The court limited itself by recommending that both sides refrain from ethnic discrimination. However, it is easy to deduce that, while mentioning both sides, the warning was directed solely towards Russia and its occupation of the Georgian territories.
This time, Russia puts forward the argument that Georgia has never before accused the Russian Federation of ethnic discrimination and that, on the contrary, Russia was fulfilling its peacekeeping mission. The second argument is that, before applying to The Hague court, Georgia should have submitted its claims to the UN to consider the case. According to procedure, the UN should have submitted the claims to the Russian federation which should have answered the accusations. Only after this, if one of the sides is not satisfied, would the case proceed and be submitted to the Hague court. If the procedural details suggested by Moscow are accepted by court, the process will be prolonged in time but The Hague court will receive it for consideration sooner or later. Georgian officials are optimistic that the Hague court will conclude in favour of Georgia, which would be a diplomatic victory. However, one should not be too optimistic. Russia has a very powerful diplomatic and economic lobby throughout Europe and, indirectly, it might influence The Hague court's decision which, of course, must be impartial.