Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 11th June 2014.

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Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in the south Caucasus.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

The south Caucasus region, while currently relatively stable, is home to three unresolved conflicts and continued internal and external political tensions. As a result, the risk of renewed instability remains real.

In Georgia, the UK supports the work of the EU Monitoring Mission; it continues to play a valuable role in helping to reduce tensions along the boundary lines of the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, we remain concerned about “borderisation” along the administrative boundary lines of the breakaway regions which only serves to exacerbate tensions in the area. The recent change of power in Abkhazia is concerning, but we are relieved that events have unfolded peacefully. We hope the acting de facto authorities respect the rights of all people in Abkhazia, in particular ethnic Georgians living in the Gali region.

The UK is also concerned by ongoing ceasefire breaches between forces along both the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenia-Azerbaijan borders. It is disappointing that as we pass the 20th anniversary of the 1994 ceasefire agreement between the conflicting parties, a sustainable, agreed settlement is still not within reach. The UK supports the work of the OSCE Minsk Group’s Co-Chairs in their attempts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict and introduce confidence-building measures which will help de-escalate tensions.

The UK remains committed to conflict resolution work in the south Caucasus. This financial year, the conflict pool has allocated £3 million to projects in the south Caucasus that will build capacity of local communities to prevent and resolve conflicts.

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