Washington briefing: European MPs: Georgia, Russia both guilty in Ossetia war

by Emil Sanamyan and Lusine Sarkisyan

Published: Saturday October 11, 2008

Washington -

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on October 2 that called for an "independent international investigation into what happened" in and around South Ossetia last August, "since the facts surrounding the outbreak of war between Georgia and Russia are disputed."

The resolution adopted by the Assembly suggests that both Georgia and Russia had violated international law, Council of Europe principles, and their commitment to settle conflicts by peaceful means. The resolution says, "The Assembly is concerned about the human rights and humanitarian law violations committed by both sides in the context of the war.

"In particular, the use of indiscriminate force and weapons by both Georgian and Russian troops in civilian areas can be considered war crimes that need to be fully investigated," the resolution said.

PACE also called on Russia to "withdraw" its recognition of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, considering it a violation of international law and Council of Europe statutory principles.

Speaking during the debate on the resolution, PACE member Armen Rustamyan (ARF) said, according to a summarized translation, "he could not identify the culprit in this conflict" since Armenia has important relations with both countries.

Erol Aslan Cebeci, a Turkish member of parliament from the ruling party, expressed concern over violations of the "territorial integrity of Georgia" and said Russia's military operation was a "clear violation of international law and extremely disproportionate."

But he added that the "Georgian administration has been excessively aggressive in its dealing with South Ossetian affairs" and cautioned against "taking steps that could jeopardise the channels of dialogue" with either Georgia or Russia.

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