Council of Europe: Georgia used ‘disproportionate force’

The war in South Ossetia was the result of a serious escalation of tension and a worsening of the security situation, says the draft resolution of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. It also recognises that the shelling of Tskhinval by Georgia

On Thursday PACE wraps up its three-day debate on the recent conflict in the Caucasus on Thursday. The discussion follows a trip by the assembly's special mission to Russia, Georgia and Tskhinval last week.

According to the draft resolution, the use of military hardware and cluster weapons, creating a serious danger for civilians, was 'a disproportionate use of military force' by Georgia and, as such, is a violation of international law.

However, the document deems Russia's action in protecting its citizens living outside the country 'unacceptable' under international law. The Russian counter-attack is considered non-observance of principles of the Council of Europe.

The assembly intends to condemn the recognition of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Russia, and to reiterate its commitment to Georgia's territorial integrity. With these matters in mind, PACE states its readiness to set up a special parliamentary commission.

For its part, the Russian delegation to PACE says the draft resolution disregards the Russian amendments to the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan and fully spurns all arguments from the Russian side. The delegation deputy head Leonid Slutsky said they will vote against the document.

“It’s the first time that two states belonging to the Council of Europe have been at war. As I was saying this morning in the debate, we cannot accept it. Because we know that there are other regions with so-called frozen conflicts. So we have to be very clear at this moment and take a real strong position to make it clear that only by dialogue, by peaceful means, can we come to something,” said Luc van den Brande, PACE representative on Georgia.