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EU Independent Expert on Human Rights visits Abkhazia

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, May 13
In order to assess the human rights situation in Georgia’s breakaway region, an independent expert on Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, visited Abkhazia.

The expert explored the humanitarian and human rights situation in Abkhaiza, and will later prepare a report on the human rights situation in Abkhazia for the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus.

During the visit, Mammarberg met with Abkhazia's de-facto President, Raul Khajimba.

According to the Abkhazian media, human rights issues and the preparation of relevant recommendations were discussed during the meeting.

The Abkhazian side expressed readiness to co-operate with the expert, though expressed hope that Hammarberg will stay neutral in his assessments.

“We are against politicized labelling. You should take into account the objective difficulties faced by the young state of Abkhazia, including relations with Georgia,” stated Khajimba, and admitted that just like any other country, Abkhazia also has problems in terms of human rights but fully intends to solve them.

Abkhazian media reported that the President asked the expert to present Abkhazia correctly on the international arena.

“I hope that your findings will not be used as political leverage against Abkhazia or other kinds of speculation, and your work will help us not only to eliminate shortcomings, but also correctly and accurately exhibit our state on the international arena,” said Khajimba.

Before visiting Abkhazia, Thomas Hammarberg held a meeting with the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, at the governmental administration.

The conversation touched upon the human rights situation in the occupied territories of Georgia. Particular attention was paid to the Resolution adopted by the Committee of the Ministers' Deputies of the Council of Europe that addressed the facts of human rights violations in breakaway regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali.

The expert also met with the Foreign Minister of Georgia, Mikheil Janelidze. According to the Foreign Ministry, the Georgian Foreign Minister acquainted the expert with the Georgian Government’s policy towards peaceful resolution of the frozen conflict and meeting the needs of the conflict-affected population. Mikheil Janelidze paid special attention to the grave humanitarian and human rights situation in Abkhazia.

In addition, the Commissioner for Human Rights met with the Acting Chairman of Government of the A/R of Abkhazia, Vakhtang Kolbaia.

During the meeting, Vakhtang Kolbaia introduced the projects carried out by the government and informed him about the human rights situation in Abkhazia. He then spoke about the human rights situation of residents of the Gali district and problems of receiving Georgian-language education.

Thomas Hammarberg, as an independent Senior Expert, was commissioned by the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia Herbert Salber in order to assess the human rights situation in the occupied region of Abkhazia.

The mission serves humanitarian goals and is held in line with the EU’s non-recognition and engagement policy.