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US observer controversies

By Messenger Staff
Friday, July 31
The EU has prolonged the mandate of its observer mission in Georgia. However it has delayed until autumn its final decision on including US observers in the EUMM mission. Georgian analysts suggest that this delay has been prompted by EU concern that Russia would be greatly irritated by this act. It is now a tradition that Europe always considers Russia’s position, or to put it more straightforwardly, that Europe shows it is afraid of Russia because it can cut off its energy supplies.

Moscow thinks that the idea of deploying American observers in Georgia is absolutely unacceptable and it is threatening Washington that if this is done bilateral relations will be seriously damaged. Georgian analysts meanwhile express their confidence that the appearance of American observers in the region is just a matter of time.

The EU observer mission in Georgia has recently gained much greater importance. As everyone knows Russia has managed to block the continuation of the other two international missions in Georgia, OSCE and UNOMIG, so the EUMM is the only international force which can monitor and observe Russia’s conduct in the occupied territories. It can establish a more or less clear picture of what’s going on around the administrative borders separating the puppet regimes from Georgia, and if there had not been an EU monitoring mission to date Russian provocations and slanders would have been more arrogant and shameless. But now the situation is more or less under control, even though provocations continue and the conflict the observers are monitoring, which is not in any way inevitable, still exists thanks to Russian machinations..

The EU monitors are being categorically denied entry to the occupied territories. The terms of their deployment are clearly determined in the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement, which specifies that the mission should operate on Georgian territory and treats Abkhazia and South Ossetia as Georgian territory. In violation of international laws and agreements Russia has recognised the separatist regimes as ‘independent states’ and therefore states that these territories are no longer part of Georgia and this aspect of the agreement is therefore redundant. This policy of force, arrogance and disrespect of the international order is what Moscow calls the ‘new reality.’ No one else regards it as such, one major reason being that Russia ignoring its international commitments is actually a very old reality, and no one has any inclination to make an effort to see the world a new light because of it.

Russia and the representatives of its puppet regimes are aggressively hostile to US observers’ presence in or around the conflict zone. They hint at indirect involvement of the US in last year’s military confrontation, suggesting that US monitors’ appearance in the conflict zone will increase the possibility of provocations. The so-called Foreign Minister of Abkhazia Sergey Shamba says that the US cannot be considered an unbiased and neutral party in the region as it has trained the Georgian armed forces. The cynicism is overwhelming here. For more than 15 years the Russians have conducted ‘peacekeeping missions’ in both of Georgia’s conflict zones in which they not only trained the separatist military bands but directly participated in military assaults on Georgia.

Different developments of this issue can be postulated. One: Moscow will allow EU monitors to enter the occupied territories on condition that no Americans will be deployed there. As is known the EU is very insistent that Moscow must allow its observers into the occupied parts of Georgia. Two: the EU will agree in autumn to include US monitors in the mission. This however is most unlikely to happen. The third option is that the Georgian administration conducts bilateral negotiations with the Americans and invites American observers to come to Georgia. However this should be negotiated and agreed with the EU beforehand, and in order for this to happen the EU has to ignore the Russian energy threat and the US has to prove it is committed to supporting Georgia not just verbally but in reality.

However there is a fourth option as well. The proposal that US observers could come to Georgia might remain a matter of verbal acrobatics. If they don’t come here this will be an indirect acceptance of Russia’s ‘new reality’ and things will still go the way they have done in the first postwar year.