We reiterate our deep concern at the continued illegal presence of Russia in Georgia

Thank you Mr President.

Dear Colleagues, Thirteen years after the Russian military invasion of Georgia, the UK remains deeply concerned about the ongoing illegal Russian presence in parts of the country. We fully support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders and underline the need for a peaceful solution to the conflict based on full respect for the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and international law.

Georgia has faced a constant hybrid attack from Russia since the 2008 war in which 20% of Georgian territory was effectively annexed. Thousands of Russian troops and border guards are stationed in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, some just 35 minutes from Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. And the human rights situation in these breakaway regions is a matter of serious and growing concern.

We welcome Georgia’s continued compliance with the EU-brokered ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008. We call on the Russian Federation to immediately fulfill its unambiguous commitment under the Armistice Agreement to withdraw its armed forces to pre-conflict positions, as well as its commitments to allow unhindered access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and not to impede the establishment of international security arrangements on the ground .

We also call on Russia to reverse its recognition of the so-called independence of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to end all practices aimed at the creeping annexation of these territories into the Russian Federation. We welcome initiatives by the Government of Georgia to promote reconciliation between the populations divided by administrative borders and call on Russia not to impede this valuable peace-building and people-to-people contacts.

The UK is a long-time supporter of this annual resolution in solidarity with the people of Georgia and all internally displaced people worldwide. As others have said, this is even more relevant this year after Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

The resolution emphasizes the inalienable right of the forcibly displaced population to a safe and dignified return to their homes, recognizes their property rights, reaffirms the unacceptability of forced demographic changes, and creates an important mechanism for the UN Secretary-General to report on developments in this regard. These are all issues vital to our universal common interest in human rights, reconciliation and peace.

We therefore call on all Member States to vote in favor of this resolution, which aims to protect the most vulnerable in society and to underline that it is unacceptable to use internally displaced persons as political pawns in conflicts.

Thanks colleagues. Thank you Mr President.