Thursday

29th Feb 2024

Swiss diplomat outlines Georgia war probe

The choice of experts for a new enquiry into the Georgia war will be a "Solomonic decision" amid efforts to guarantee objectivity, the Swiss diplomat in charge of the mission, Heidi Tagliavini, has told EUobserver.

Ms Tagliavini's remarks come as the EU on Tuesday (2 December) formally launched the probe, creating a "fact-finding mission" to investigate "the origins and the course of the conflict ...with regard to international law, humanitarian law and human rights, and the accusations made in that context."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The judgement of Solomon depicted in an 18th century Italian painting (Photo: Wikipedia)

The European Commission is to provide €1.6 million to fund the project, which is to produce a final report by 31 July 2009.

The Swiss diplomat is currently selecting a panel of 10 to 12 lawyers, historians, military staff and human rights experts to help run the enquiry, as well as seeking new offices in Brussels and Geneva to house her team.

EU diplomats expect Ms Tagliavini to present detailed plans for her investigation in Brussels on 19 December and to begin travelling to Russia and Georgia before the end of the year.

"I should have some clear ideas about the whole mission by then [19 December]," she said. "An investigation is a process. I might have a team by the end of this year and then hire extra people if the need arises."

Asked whether the selection of the panel is proving difficult, as Russia-friendly or Georgia-friendly countries lobby to get people on board, Ms Tagliavini referred to the biblical King Solomon, known for cunning solutions to dilemmas.

"It's a Solomonic decision. These are sensitive issues. We know the sensitivities and we will try to address them."

The diplomat - chosen in part for her non-EU nationality to underline the project's neutrality - has officially left her post as deputy head of political affairs at the Swiss foreign ministry and quit its headquarters in the Swiss capital, Bern.

"I am independent. It would be unprofessional to be in a building unsuited to this."

Ms Tagliavini did not rule out the possibility of visiting conflict zones in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia in the course of her work, atop interviews in Moscow or Tbilisi.

"All travel that is necessary will be undertaken," she said. "Look at the title for the mission: it talks about 'origins.' We will use all the resources available."

"The [€1.6 million] budget is a good budget. But if this becomes an obstacle to fulfilling the mission, we can come back to this."

The EU's mandate for the investigation says the final report will be "presented to the parties to the conflict, and to the Council [the EU member states' secretariat], the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations."

But the mission head indicated that the primary function of the study will be to inform future EU policy on the still-simmering conflict.

"It's a report to the EU," Ms Tagliavini said. "I believe it's the EU that will choose the function of this."

Russian oligarchs failed to get off EU blacklist

Hungary failed to get three Russian and three Chinese names deleted, as the EU approved its 13th package of sanctions ahead of an anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Feature

Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.

Opinion

The macabre saga of Navalny's corpse

With Alexei Navalny's funeral in Moscow on Friday, Vladimir Putin's regime haven't just insulted his mother and widow with their treatment of his corpse — they've breached international treaties and conventions.

Latest News

  1. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats
  2. EU won't yet commit funding UN agency in Gaza amid hunger
  3. EU Commission clears Poland's access to up to €137bn EU funds
  4. Right of Reply: The EU-ACP Samoa agreement
  5. The macabre saga of Navalny's corpse
  6. Belgium braces for Flemish far-right gains, deadlock looms
  7. Podcast: Hyperlocal meets supranational
  8. Von der Leyen appeals for 'new EU defence mindset'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us