1st Oct 2020

Russia opposed to EU mission in Georgia

Russia on Monday (8 September) rejected the planned deployment of an EU observation mission to Georgia, saying that there are already enough international observers on the ground.

"We think this [a separate EU mission] will result in superfluous fragmentation of international monitoring forces that are already being carried out by the UN and the OSCE [Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe]," Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko was quoted as saying by French news agency AFP.

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  • A separate EU mission will lead to a "superfluous fragmentation of international monitoring forces," says Russia (Photo: Presidential Press and Information Office)

The statement came just after an EU delegation led by EU president-in-office Nicolas Sarkozy, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, arrived in Moscow to push for the deployment of the EU civilian monitors in Georgia following the conflict that erupted there last month.

The EU had planned to launch the so-called European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) mission of up to 200 observers in Georgia, which would work alongside the OSCE and boost the bloc's presence on the ground.

While the Russian spokesman rejected the separate EU mission, he underlined that Moscow does not oppose the decision to send OSCE observers into the conflict zone with Georgia and hoped that the EU will "actively support" the OSCE mission.

EU united

Besides settling the possible deployment of the EU mission to Georgia, the EU delegation will also try to get an agreement on a date for starting international talks on the future of the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia has recognised as independent states, despite strong protest from the West.

Another priority will be to obtain the Russian military withdrawal from Georgia to pre-conflict positions in line with a peace accord signed last month.

At the start of the talks with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow, Mr Sarkozy stressed that all EU countries were united in their stance.

"[The delegation] bear(s) the hopes of 27 countries. What do these countries want from Russia? They want peace, trust and good relations" he said. "Just like our Russian friends, we want to stand up for our convictions. The European Union has its principles and convictions too."

UN hearing starts

Meanwhile, the UN's highest court - the International Court of Justice - on Monday opened a three-day public hearing on a case of alleged "ethnic cleansing" by Russia in Georgia.

Georgia claims Russia has been conducting ethnic cleansing against Georgians in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and has called for urgent protection measures.

For its part, Moscow has denied the allegations and is accusing Georgia of war crimes during its assault of Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia.

It is also threatening to have Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili tried as a war criminal, according to Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

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