The ITUC and ETUC welcome the announcement by Russia that it is now ceasing military operations in Georgia. It is imperative that all the parties involved stop armed hostilities immediately.
Russia should withdraw its forces to the positions prior to 7 August, and the authorities on all sides must ensure that the urgent medical and humanitarian needs can be met without impediment. The UN’s High Commission on Refugees estimates that more than 100,000 persons are refugees, with some 42,000 South Ossetians having been displaced into Russia or within South Ossetia and around 56,000 inhabitants of the city of Gori having been displaced to elsewhere in Georgia.
A complete cessation of fighting opens the possibility for dialogue to bring an end to the dispute, and the international community must do all it can to help create the conditions for this dialogue.
The ITUC’s Russian and Georgian affiliates are in the process of assessing humanitarian needs, and the ITUC remains in close contact with them. Further to requests from these affiliates, the ITUC and ETUC are launching a humanitarian solidarity appeal to help meet the massive needs of those affected by the conflict.
The ITUC and ETUC also recognize the tremendous damage to vital infrastructure, including homes, factories and other facilities which has been done during this conflict, and calls upon the international community to be ready to fully assist in the necessary rebuilding and reconstruction.
ITUC-ETUC statement of 11 August:
Brussels, 11 August 2008 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC and the European Trade Union Confederation have expressed their grave concerns at the escalation of the conflict between Georgia and Russia, its impact on civilians and the deepening threat to stability in the region.
“We call upon all parties involved to observe an immediate and total cease-fire, and enter negotiations to bring an end to the conflict and to resolve the underlying issues which have led to it,” said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.
Some 2,000 people are believed to have been killed in South Ossetia, and 100 or more in Georgia, with many more wounded. Ten members of the Dockworkers’ Union in the Georgian port of Poti are reported killed and 15 injured. Tens of thousands of refugees are understood to have been displaced from South Ossetia and neighbouring areas, underlining the urgent need for a major humanitarian effort alongside peace talks.
ITUC affiliates in Russia (FNPR) and Georgia (GTUC) have both called on the international trade union movement to support efforts to put a stop to the fighting, and the ITUC is maintaining close contact with them.
“We are also appealing to the United Nations, to the European Union and to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to put their full weight behind the quest for a peaceful, negotiated end to this conflict,” said Ryder.
Joint ITUC-ETUC Statement of 8 August:
Brussels, 8 August 2008 (ITUC OnLine): With tensions over South Ossetia deepening and the risk of the current fighting escalating into a major armed confrontation, the ITUC and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) have called on Georgia, Russia and the South Ossetians to pull back from the brink of conflict.
Georgia has announced a full mobilization of its military, and its troops are reportedly involved in fighting in the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali. Russia and Georgia have each accused the other of aggressive actions as the situation has deteriorated. Emergency discussions at the UN Security Council on Thursday night ended without agreement on a Russian-proposed statement.
“All the parties concerned need to cease military action and get back into talks immediately, and sort this out through dialogue and negotiation rather than through force of arms. Along with the devastating immediate consequences of any armed conflict, a failure to resolve the situation peacefully would have serious social and economic impacts in the region,” said John Monks, general secretary of the ETUC and of the ITUC’s Pan-European Regional Council.