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Abkhazia, South Ossetia Object TO U.S. Joining EU Monitoring Mission


Members of the EU Monitoring Mission man a checkpoint.

Members of the EU Monitoring Mission man a checkpoint.

Senior officials of the unrecognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have voiced their objections to Georgian hopes to augment with an unspecified number of U.S. personnel the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) currently deployed on the Georgian side of Georgia's internal border with those two republics.

The New York Times" on July 21 quoted Georgian National Security Council Secretary Eka Tkeshelashvili as saying Tbilisi hopes that the United States will agree to provide additional personnel to augment the 246 unarmed civilian EUMM monitors.

Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria said the same day that Georgia is holding "preliminary talks" with the United States and that it "does not rule out" the possibility that Turkey too might provide personnel. The EUMM's one-year mandate expires in September.

Ambassador Peter Semneby, who is the EU's special envoy for the South Caucasus, was quoted by "The New York Times" as saying EU members are discussing informally the possibility of inviting the United States to join the EUMM, but that it is not formally on the agenda.

Georgian Minister for Euro-Integration Giorgi Baramidze said on July 22 that a U.S. presence in the EUMM "could pave the way for its transformation into a police or a peace-keeping mission."

Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba stated unequivocally on July 22 that his republic does not trust the United States, which, he claimed, has for years armed Georgia. He recalled photos posted on the Internet last summer shortly after the Russian-Georgian war that showed men who appeared to be U.S. military instructors demonstrating to Georgian military personnel how to assemble explosive devises.

Shamba said Georgia is free to decide whether to allow U.S. observers on its territory, but that if it does so, Abkhazia may end its participation in the ongoing UN/EU/U.S.-sponsored talks in Geneva on security issues.

Boris Chochiyev, who is the South Ossetian deputy prime minister and heads his republic's delegation to the Geneva talks, similarly told Interfax on July 22 that the presence of U.S. observers is not envisaged by the September 2008 agreement between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy on deploying the EUMM. Chochiyev stressed that "South Ossetia is an independent, sovereign state, and neither EU nor Western observers will monitor territories here."

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.

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