The Council of Europe opened debates today leading to a resolution and Thursday vote on the thorny subject of Georgia. There was a demonstration outside Council headquarters in Strasbourg by South Ossetians. Their pressure group “Ossetia accuses” says the EU is too pro-Georgian.
“We want to show the Council of Europe that our independence needs to be declared here above all. This indispensable step must be taken, because Russia acted to to really save our lives, to defend our country and our people, because at the start two thousand Ossetians died,” said one of the 14 protestors.
Pressure is building, led by European parliamentarian Dennis MacShane, to punish Russia, including stripping its delegation of sitting and voting rights. “There are countries involved in wars, in brutalities, for instance France during colonial times, Russia with Chechnya, even maybe Britain in Northern Ireland, terrible things happened, but never have members of the council of Europe voted to partition a fellow member state of the council of Europe. We have to respond,” said the British MEP.
Both Georgia and Russia are Council members, which makes resolving this divisive dispute all the more important for Europe’s oldest and most respected institution.