A step forward for Abkhazia & South Ossetia

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is stepping back from its demand that Russia reverse its decision to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the Caucasus.

A draft resolution has been presented in Strasbourg where a PACE winter session has started.

Russia says the new document is far more balanced than any previous statements.

“The blueprints of these documents do not contain the demand that Russia give up the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” Konstantin Kosachyov said, State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman and head of the Russian delegation to PACE.

Kosachyov added that the new resolution did not contain “appeals to other member states of the Council of Europe not to recognize the independence” of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

“This is a totally new approach compared to the one shown by the Assembly in October…far more balanced,” he said.

In October 2008, PACE strongly condemned the conflict in the Caucasus, calling for an international inquiry into the events and demanding Moscow drop recognition of the republics.

The Assembly, however, is demanding full access for all international observers to the territories of Georgia's former breakaway republics.

In particular, the Council has called on Russia to allow OSCE observers into South Ossetia and EU observers into both South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Regardless of PACE's change in view, the Russian delegation has already introduced 33 amendments to the first draft and 20 to the second.

The winter meeting will continue until 30 January.