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Lifting of the Russian checkpoint at Perevi…

(B2)Good news from Georgia: the Russians have dismantled the Russian checkpoint at Perevi and moved it to Sinaguri, on the other side of the “administrative” border separating South Ossetia from Georgia (interior). “We are very happy with this movement” immediately commented Ambassador Hansjörg Haber, head of the EUMM. " LRussian forces in South Ossetia had long refused to dismantle this checkpoint, despite clear evidence that it was located west of the administrative boundary of South Ossetia. But the insistence of the EU presidency and the EUMM has finally paid off”. “We hope that this action will now allow us to start a constructive process of confidence building with all the parties concerned. " he added.

During recent discussions between Europeans and Russians – the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs and senior military officers – they had in fact recognized that this checkpoint
was "was clearly located west of the border administrative ". So in contravention of the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreements of August and September. But for the Russians, in fact, it was a question of responding to the " lay of the land “, very rugged, the point of Perevi was easier and allowed them to have, in terms of security, a more strategic point of support and easier to control than the administrative border. A totally unacceptable point of view for Europeans.

At the beginning of November, the Russians had handed over the baton to the “de facto” Ossetian forces for a few days before taking control of the checkpoint, to the implicit satisfaction of the internationals present in Georgia and the local population. The behavior of the Ossetian forces is marked by their indiscipline and their lack of organization ". While with " the Russians we are dealing with regular, disciplined forces, which obey a precise chain of command, and with whom it is possible to discuss “Comments a connoisseur of the file present in the country.

The European observers had been able to visit the Russian checkpoint on several occasions and even cross it to reach, a kilometer further on, the village of Perevi. But at the cost of a compromise. " The Russians wanted to accompany us. But it was impossible for them to get into our vehicles. And they only had heavy vehicles that they didn't really want to use so as not to provoke the population. So we found the solution. Make the trip on foot. » an observer told me. The inhabitants were regularly visited by European observers and Russian soldiers, on joint patrol. The only mixed patrol on the two Ossetian and Abkhazian administrative boundaries, for the moment.

One of the last delicate points remaining to be resolved for the Europeans – and the return to the situation before August – is access to the Alkhagori valley (South Ossetia), from where many Georgians were expelled as well as on the Abkhazian side, that of the Gali region and the Khodori gorges. Without a doubt, the “most critical point (because) no information filters. Even the UN does not have access to it,” underlines an expert on the matter.

(NGV)

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).