Missions OperationsRussia Caucasus Ukraine

Two European missions in Georgia with the same objective: to observe

(B2) There will indeed be a exploratory mission of the EU – under European Defense – who will leave immediately for Georgia, as a “scout” for a more comprehensive EU observation mission. So decided the European Council, gathered in an extraordinary way, today September 1st in Brussels. Objective: “to contribute to the collection of information and to specify the modalities of a reinforced commitment of the European Union on the ground”. Both missions should be civilian defense missions. Its members could, however, be civilian as well as… military experts. The budget will be financed by the European Union. Around 40 people are expected to take part. Some are already on the ground, alongside the special representative – under the “border special team” responsible for training Georgian border guards – or as political advisors. Others will quickly join them. The 27 decided to speed up things for the “observation mission” (EUMM) itself, which could ultimately include several hundred observers, according to Javier Solana. A possible commitment decision could be taken by the Council of Foreign Ministers as early as September 15. Which is very fast at European level. This will make it possible to prepare a “Joint Action” and begin the deployment of observers immediately, in November for example. The objective is that before the end of the year, the mission can be in place. This is important because it is from the establishment of this mission that the “additional security measures” – which poison the entire diplomatic atmosphere – and the presence of the Russians in “Georgian” Georgia can come to an end. This mission will come strengthen and supplement the OSCE workforce.

OSCE side,
around 28 observers are present (including 13 from the EU, including 2 Finns, 2 French). Eventually there should be around a hundred. But the establishment and deployment of the following 72 is still the subject of negotiations with the Russians who quibble on this or that point. Since yesterday, Sunday, 2 observers have been able to arrive in South Ossetia, near Akhalgori, in the area of ​​the Georgian villages of South Ossetia.

Why two missions that seem to have the same objectives? These two missions do not have the same obligations. An EU mission can quite easily evolve in its mandate, take on additional tasks (we see this in Palestine, where the “Police” mission now extends to prisons), increase its staff, resort to collaborations between Third states (United States and Swiss in Kosovo, Russians in Chad, South Americans in Bosnia, etc.), deploy in other regions. All in a fairly flexible manner, by simple decision of the appropriate body at European level, depending on the case it can be the Council of Ministers (sometimes by simple written procedure), or the Security Policy Committee (the ambassadors of the policy foreign), or even the head of mission (if he has received a prior mandate). If the human and material resources are there, the purely legal decision is often quick. For the OSCE, a multinational organization, it is more delicate, every decision is carefully considered and above all political. In addition, it is subject to the agreement of the Russians – a stakeholder in the organization. In short, the EU civilian defense mission could, if necessary, replace the OSCE mission. The Russians know this and are caught in their own “international reputation” trap. Willy-nilly they will have to accept either an OSCE mission or an EU mission, or even both… It will take a few weeks perhaps. But it will progress...


Photo credit: OSCE – OSCE vehicles towards Tbilisi airport, August 22.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).