Co-chairs of the Geneva International Discussions welcome the reopening of crossing points connecting the occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) region and the rest of Georgia, but say “the closure was not justified”.
In a statement released yesterday, the co-chairs said they “have made this position clear through continuous engagement since the first day of the closure”, at the Ergneti Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meeting in February and during their recent meetings in Tskhinvali.
The Co-Chairs have taken note of the public health concerns voiced and, for this reason, have referred to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is the competent international body on such issues”, the statement reads.
It further notes that “the WHO’s position is that closing crossing points offers no public health benefits. Therefore, the Co-Chairs have on numerous occasions restated their firm view that freedom of movement as a basic human right should always be upheld”.
They have stressed in particular the impact of the closure on people’s lives and have expressed the hope that in any future similar situation both the IPRM and the hotline would be fully used in order to avoid imposing undue hardship on the population”, the statement further says.
De facto leaderships of two Georgian occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali decided to close their respective crossing points to “avoid the spread of H1NI” from the rest of Georgia in January. Abkhazia reopened its crossing point earlier in February, while Tskhivali lifted its sanctions only yesterday.