There was no genocide in South Ossetia in the beginning of August 2008, when Georgia invaded Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, the leader of the PACE delegation Luc Van den Brande said at a press conference in Tbilisi upon his return from Tskhinvali.
“When we talk about genocide we should talk about it cautiously. We can not describe the events which happened in Tskhinvali as genocide,” the leader of the PACE delegation said.
The delegation of nine PACE members visited Russia, Georgia and South Ossetia during September 22-25. The officials arrived on a mission to collect the information for holding the pre-scheduled debate on the problem of consequences of the war between Georgia and Russia within the scope of the forthcoming autumn session of the Assembly in Strasbourg. The delegation visited South Ossetia and Georgia’s Gori and had a meeting with S. Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity, RIA Novosti reports.
The leader of the delegation stated that neither side had done anything to avoid the conflict which began earlier than August 7. The official also urged to be more careful with the use of the term ‘genocide’ and added that ‘ethnic cleansing’ would be better.
“As for the ethnic cleansing, we visited Georgian, Ossetian and mixed settlements and we can say by what we saw there that it was an ethnic cleansing that had taken place there. Basic human rights were violated,” Van den Brande said. The official added that the delegation had come to preliminary conclusions only and would continue collecting the information.
The PACE delegation urged to conduct an international investigation of the events in the Caucasus. Van den Brande also set out his support to the territorial integrity of Georgia.
When the delegation arrived in South Ossetia and visited the Jewish quarter of Tskhinvali, ruined by the Georgian military, the delegation leader said that he was shocked with what he had seen.
“I am shocked with what happened there, and there can be no words found to justify the events that happened,” Van den Brande said.