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Haber (EUMM Georgia): the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement still not respected

(BRUSSELS2) The Head of the European Observer Mission in Georgia (Eumm Georgia),
Hansjörg Haber was present in Brussels for a short update, a year after the start of the deployment of observers: “ the situation is better than we could have hoped he explained. " La death of a paramedic (in June) is not the signal of a return to tension. "" The incident prevention mechanism works well. "" Little by little the forces of the de facto administrative authorities (NB: South Ossetia and Abkhazia) have a more relaxed attitude towards us » Eumm has 210 – 220 observers on site, all from European Union member countries.

The Medvedev-Sarkozy plan still not fully respected. The European ambassador half-heartedly acknowledged that the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan of 2008 was still not really respected. The Russians still hold the position of Perevi – which is not “not located within the administrative boundaries of South Ossetia” but in “Georgia”. And they did not retreat to the front line before the conflict. That is to say beyond Abkhazia or South Ossetia. They announced a reduction in staff numbers, “by about half, going from 3600 to 1700 men in each base” he assured, “although we have no evidence of this movement” (NB: the Russian Chief of Staff announced this reduction, because “nothing justified maintaining such numbers”).

No maritime surveillance. Haber acknowledged that the mission was monitoring the situation at sea but did not have an observation mission as such. “ EUMM does not have a ship available. We do not observe the maritime situation, nor the movements of boats. (But) we are monitoring the situation closely. A meeting of the incident prevention mechanism took place (on this subject) ". This could perhaps be one of the points of development, even if the ambassador did not want to say more. We know, in fact, that the situation is tense. The Georgians have
established a blockade of Abkhazia and intercepted a Turkish tanker at the end of August and detained its crew. The Russian coast guard has just deployed 8 boats there to prevent Georgians from approaching the Abkhazian coast and restore traffic.

4th Incident Prevention Mechanism Meeting

No Americans in the mission. The proposal – made by the Georgians – to incorporate Americans into the EUMM mission was received with great caution by the diplomat (to put it mildly). Elegantly, he responded that “European forces were sufficient for the moment” on the spot. A polite but firm refusal. We know that, even if from an operational point of view, it is not always necessary, the EU has often accepted contributions from third states in its missions (Croats for Atalanta, Albanians for Chad or Americans in Guinea -Bissau…). A contribution that is often politically symbolic. Here it is the opposite. In fact, the workforce is provided by “contributions from Member States”. But, above all, the presence of the Americans would be seen as a “red flag” for the Russians and would compromise the entire mission. The ambassador – of course – did not go into all these details. But the brevity of his response spoke volumes.

Redeployment. EUMM reorganized its forces in mid-Septembers around three “Field offices”:
– The largest in Gori (near the South Ossetian border): 112 people, 4 teams (2 ABL Confidence Building, 1 Verification, 1 Human Rights / humanitarian issues).
– the second in Zugdidi (near Abkhazia limit): 76 Staff, 3 teams (1 ABL Confidence Building, 1 Verification, 1 Rights of
man/humanitarian issues).
– the last in Mtskheta (near Tbilisi): 64 people, 2 teams (1 verification, 1 on human rights or humanitarian issues).

Observers operate in teams that focus on three areas: monitoring the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) and restoring confidence; the “compliance” teams who check the monitoring of military and security installations, in order to respect the protocols passed between the EUMM and the Ministries of the Interior and Defense; Human Rights or humanitarian issues, including the situation of all those displaced in August 2008 (and previously) in the buffer zone north of Gori.

(photo credit: Eumm Georgia)

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).