TBILISI, January 28./TASS/. The decision on the participation of the Russian delegation in the Tbilisi-hosted session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in May will come after consultations with European partners, Irakli Kobakhidze, vice president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, told journalists on Tuesday.
"You may remember that in 2016, Georgia hosted a session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, to which Russian parliamentarians arrived with the consent of the United National Movement [opposition party — TASS]," Georgian parliamentarian Kobakhidze said. "There were only three parliamentarians, including [Leonid] Slutsky, who had violated the law on occupation on several occasions. At that point, the National Movement gave a green light for the arrival in Georgia of legislators who had breached the law. Today, it is exactly these people who are gambling on this issue. We urge everybody to refrain from speculations, things will become clear after consultations with our partners," he added.
Addressing a winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Tuesday, Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili pledged that the members of the Russian delegation would be able to attend the Georgia-hosted session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe irrespective of whether they had visited Abkhazia or South Ossetia.
Georgia will "go over and bypass its own national legislation which prevents people who have been visiting the occupied territories without our authorization and without entering through our territory, prevents them from reentering the territory of Georgia, and that would preclude many members of the Russian delegation to enter," the president addressed the session in English.
In August 2008, Georgia attacked South Ossetia, prompting Moscow to defend civilians, many of whom held Russian citizenship, along with Russian peacekeepers. As a result of a five-day war, the Georgian troops were driven out of South Ossetia.
On August 26, 2008, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed decrees recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In response, Tbilisi severed diplomatic relations with Moscow on September 2, 2008.
In October 2008, the Georgian parliament passed the law On Occupied Territories, introducing criminal liability for the people visiting Abkhazia and South Ossetia without authorization from Tbilisi.