10 years since hostilities in Georgia in August 2008

‘The conflict over Georgia’s breakaway regions must not be forgotten. Ten years have passed since August 2008, but the conflict is still unresolved. Russian troops remain on Georgian soil. Once again we call on Russia to comply with the August 2008 ceasefire agreement and pull its forces out of Georgia,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Presenting norwegian and georgian flags
Credit: Marita Wangberg, FD

On the night between 7 and 8 August 2008, hostilities broke out in the Georgian region of South Ossetia. Russian forces intervened on the side of the separatists and took control of areas even beyond the region of South Ossetia. The ceasefire agreement reached on 12 August 2008 included the requirement that Russian troops withdraw to the lines they had held before the start of hostilities. This requirement has not been met. On the contrary, Russia has expanded and consolidated its military presence in the two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It has recognised the two regions as independent states and has signed ‘treaties’ with these two parts of Georgia, integrating them more closely into Russia’s governance structures.

International talks on humanitarian and security-related aspects of the conflict, co-chaired by the OSCE, the EU and the UN, are held in Geneva on a regular basis. However, the status of the breakaway regions is not on the agenda of these talks. For some time, one key aim has been to secure a commitment by the parties not to use force. The political leadership of Georgia has made such a commitment, but the breakaway regions and Russia have not yet done so.

The human rights situation in the two breakaway regions is serious, particularly for the few ethnic Georgians still living there. At the same time, it is difficult for international humanitarian actors and human rights mechanisms to gain access to these regions. Norway is providing financial support for efforts to improve some aspects of the situation for the local population in the Gali area in the southern part of Abkhazia.

Since the ‘Rose Revolution’ in 2003, Georgia has implemented important reforms in many sectors. In 2014, the country concluded an Association Agreement with the EU committing it to further reforms. Georgia is also seeking to further develop its partnership with NATO, with membership as its ultimate goal.

‘Our support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity remains unchanged. We also support Georgia’s right to chart its own course. So-called ‘spheres of influence’ have no place in the 21st century.

‘Georgia is an important and valued partner for Norway. We look forward to following Georgia’s reform efforts in the time ahead. Norway will continue to support Georgia’s integration into European and Euro-Atlantic cooperation structures,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.