International Recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia - Positions Taken By Intergovernmental Organisations

Positions Taken By Intergovernmental Organisations

Under international law, intergovernmental organisations do not themselves possess the legal capacity to recognise any state diplomatically; their member states do so individually. However, depending on the intergovernmental organisation's rules of internal governance and the positions of their member states, they may express positive or negative opinions as to declarations of independence, or choose to offer or withhold membership to a newly declared state.

International organisation Position
United Nations In August 2008, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that "the question of recognition of states is a matter for sovereign states to decide. Today's developments may have wider implications for security and stability in the Caucasus. The secretary-general regrets that ongoing efforts to find a common solution on the way forward in the crisis in Georgia within the Security Council may be complicated". Michele Montas, a spokesperson for UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, denied comparisons of Kosovo with the two regions and said, "I think that you should compare the two situations. The history of the two situations is different and this has been stressed several times".

President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, said that having invaded South Ossetia Georgia made an act of aggression and violated the UN Charter. Also he stated that Russia’s actions against Georgia after an attack on South Ossetia were a justified response.

Collective Security Treaty Organisation On 3 September, The CSTO member countries supported Russia's stance on the events in the Caucasus in a collective statement. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, "It denounces the military actions taken by Georgia against South Ossetia and stresses the necessity to avoid such situations in the future. The statement highlights the key points, has all the necessary verifications, including condemnation of Georgia's military actions against South Ossetia. It stresses the need to do the best in order not to admit similar attempts at using force for solving conflicts and evaluates events in the conflict zone. It condemns the policy of double standards and admits the dangers in the conflict zone." The member states also backed a Russian proposal to impose an arms embargo on Georgia.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandyan said, citing the joint statement: "We have come out with support for Russia's active role in contributing to peace and cooperation in the region." However the CSTO (ODKB) did not recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states as, according to Medvedev, the member states will individually decide whether to recognise taking into account their own national interests.

Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha stated at a press conference in Yerevan that the present situation is "driving Abkhazia and South Ossetia into the collective security system", and further stated his belief that "South Ossetia and Abkhazia can not successfully and steadily develop without a collective security system, without the backing of other states."

Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis said "The unilateral recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the Russian Federation violates the territorial integrity of a fellow Council of Europe member state. It jeopardises prospects for a negotiated settlement of the dispute about the future status of these two regions. Russia cannot have it both ways. In the past, Russia has strongly supported the principle of territorial integrity. The decision to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia must strike any objective observer as being inconsistent with this principle. The ultimate victim of this decision is the international credibility of the Russian Federation. The Russians cannot invoke international law only when they feel like it".
European Union The EU leaders held an emergency summit on 1 September 2008, "strongly condemned" Russia's unilateral decision and recalled "that a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict in Georgia must be based on full respect for the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity recognised by international law, the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and United Nations Security Council resolutions." They also called on other states not to recognise this proclaimed independence and asked the European Commission to examine the practical consequences to be drawn. Swedish Foreign Secretary and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Carl Bildt, said in a statement that the Russian position is "certainly just as unacceptable" as Nazi Germany "defending its rights" in Sudetenland in 1938. Minister-Counsellor and Acting Head of Mission of the Russian embassy in Stockholm, Mikhail Skupov, condemned this statement as "not objective and unfortunate" and wished Sweden had a more objective and "constructive" stance, since Russia "has not annexed anything".

The EU's executive arm, the European Commission, issued a statement stating it "fully shares and supports" the EU French presidency's statement on the Russian act on Tuesday (August 26, 2012).

French and UK foreign ministers have voiced fears that Russia may be planning scenarios similar to those that occurred in Georgia in countries traditionally regarded by Russia as being in its sphere of influence, directly bordering the EU, such as Moldova and Ukraine. Their fears are prompted by rising tension between Ukraine and Russia, and fresh calls for independence from Moldova by separatists in the breakaway region of Transnistria. Sergei Lavrov stated "I think it's a manifestation of the complete embarrassment at the fact that the favourite pet of Western capitals... didn't justify their hopes" and said that comments from Bernard Kouchner suggesting Russia has plans for Moldova and Ukraine, is a "sick fantasy".

G7 On 27 August 2008, the seven foreign ministers of the G7 member states – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom – issued a Joint Statement on Georgia, condemning the action of a fellow G8 member. The statement said, "Russia’s decision has called into question its commitment to peace and security in the Caucasus." The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded stating that the statement justified Georgia's aggression and dismissed claims that Russia violated the territorial integrity of Georgia. Furthermore, the Ministry stated that Russia has complied with the Sarkozy-Medvedev peace plan and that Russian actions have prevented further destabilisation in the Caucasus region.
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said "this is in direct violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions regarding Georgia's territorial integrity, resolutions that Russia itself has endorsed. Russia's actions in recent weeks call into question Russia's commitment to peace and security in the Caucasus. NATO firmly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and calls on Russia to respect these principles".
In December 2009, following NATO summit it was announced that NATO member states will not recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia and called on Russia to reverse its decision.
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said "the recognition of independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia violates fundamental OSCE principles. As all OSCE participating States, Russia is committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of others".

On July 9 2012, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution at its annual session in Monaco, underlining Georgia’s territorial integrity and referring to breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “occupied territories”. The resolution “urges the Government and the Parliament of the Russian Federation, as well as the de facto authorities of Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia, Georgia, to allow the European Union Monitoring Mission unimpeded access to the occupied territories.” It also says that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is “concerned about the humanitarian situation of the displaced persons both in Georgia and in the occupied territories of Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia, Georgia, as well as the denial of the right of return to their places of living.” The Assembly is the parliamentary dimension of the OSCE with 320 lawmakers from the organization’s 56 participating states, including Russia.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation According to different sources it seems disputed that Russia has gained global support from the member states in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The Hindu reported that Russia has gained crucial support from the People's Republic of China and other member states in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Xinhua News Agency reported that a joint declaration was issued at the 28 August 2008 SCO Dushanbe summit and signed by the leaders of all six full members, most notably Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The communique denounces force as a means to solve international problems, expressed concern over the tense situation, and called upon all parties to solve the ongoing South Ossetia conflict through peaceful dialogue. The heads have agreed to the six-point plan which was established in Moscow (12 August) and have expressed support to Russia. Western sources added that the SCO called for respect for every country's territorial integrity, stating, "The participants underscore the need for respect of the historical and cultural traditions of each country and each people, for efforts aimed at the preservation, under international law, of the unity of a state and its territorial integrity". On 29 August 2008, Western and some Russian sources confirmed that the SCO Group "refused to back Moscow in its conflict with Georgia, and to support Moscow’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia".
Union of Russia and Belarus On 4 August 2008 Pavel Borodin, State Secretary of the Union of Russia and Belarus, told the radio station Ekho Moskvy that he supported Russia and that South Ossetia and Abkhazia could be accepted into the Union before the end of 2008.

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