On 16 May 2013 Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, First Deputy State Minister for Reintegration, brought international practice as an example for the issue of entering the occupied territories. She stated: “We know that our neighbours, for instance, Moldova and Azerbaijan, are facing a similar problem, but these countries are not imposing such strict sanctions on those individuals who enter the occupied territories from different directions. This entails an administrative sanction in Moldova and, as for Azerbaijan, a person who has entered Karabakh is not allowed to enter the territory of Azerbaijan for the next time. Such is the international practice. We do not have an example of the case when persons who have entered the occupied territories from prohibited directions have been punished by two-to-four years of imprisonment.”
By bringing this example of international practice, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili responded to the question asked by MP Gigi Tsereteli on 15 May regarding the proposed amendments to the Code on Administrative Offences. The Member of the Parliamentary Minority asked the Speaker whether or not she was aware of any international practice and the amount of imposed fines in similar cases. According to him, perhaps this example should guide them instead of their own calculations.FactCheck
wondered whether or not the examples brought by Ketevan Tsikhelashvili were accurate.
The case study of Moldova revealed that it differs from Georgia. Moldova does not have a law on occupied territories. At the same time, according to Article 362 under the Criminal Code of Moldova, illegal border crossing of the Republic or breaking the border rules are either punished by fine in the amount of MDL 400 or 150-200 hours of community service or by up to two years of imprisonment. Despite the fact that Ketevan Tsikhelashvili talked about the administrative sanction in case of Moldova, since 2002 administrative charges were replaced by the aforementioned criminal charges.
Accordingly, Moldova does not establish different regimes regarding the border crossing of “occupied and non-occupied” territories and a general arrangement is presented in the Criminal Code of Moldova. The situation is different from the one in Georgia because the same sanction applies to any type of border crossing in Moldova. On the other hand, under the Criminal Code of Georgia, lower sanction is imposed on entry into the occupied territories than in the case of illegal border crossing.In the case of Azerbaijan, illegal border crossing or the breach of border rules is punished by the Criminal Code. Specifically, according to Article 318, a fine in the amount of AZN 200 to 500 or up to two years of imprisonment is imposed on an offender. At the same time, a warning by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan regarding the visit to the occupied territories is published on the website of the Embassy of Azerbaijan. Any entry into Karabakh without consent of Azerbaijan is considered illegal. The Ministry urges foreigners to refrain from visiting the occupied territories of the country. The statement directly points out that any person who has entered Karabakh without the consent of Azerbaijan will not be allowed to enter the country for the next time.
Accordingly, Azerbaijan has a different and strict regime regarding the occupied territories.Conclusion
The study of the legislation of Azerbaijan and Moldova revealed that Azerbaijan does not allow any person who has entered Karabakh without its consent to enter its own territory. Criminal sanction is imposed on illegal border crossing in both countries; however, this sanction is less strict than the one in Georgia. At the same time, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili made a factual mistake. In Moldova illegal border crossing is regulated by the Criminal Code instead of an administrative one.Correspondingly, we rate the statement made by Ketevan Tsikhelashvili: “These countries [Moldova and Azerbaijan] are not imposing such strict sanctions on those individuals who enter the occupied territories from different [prohibited] directions,” MOSTLY TRUE.