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Georgia: EU mission begins with observers bearing 12-gold-star EU insignia arm bands

The EU Council decided to send an independent civilian observer mission to Georgia, under the European Security and Defence Policy, to monitor the ceasefire in Georgia. The OSCE as well as the UN already have a mission in Georgia but the EU observers have not been deployed under the umbrella of the OSCE or the UN – but under the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy.

The European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Georgia is an autonomous mission led by the EU under the European security and defence policy planning to contribute to stabilisation, normalization and confidence building throughout Georgia and the surrounding region. The EUMM is composed of staff seconded by Member States or EU institutions which shall bear the costs concerned to any of the staff seconded by it, such as travel expenses, salaries, medical coverage as well as risk allowances.

Each participating state was asked to provide the equipment and material for each person deployed. 22 EU Member States have contributed personnel to the mission. The EU mission currently comprises around 350 staff. The budget mission which was initially set at 31 million euros has been increased to 35 million euros due to the increased number of staff. However, not everything is as rosy as it seems – the EU mission is suffering a logistics deficit. It is well known that EU peacekeeping missions have been counting on external contributions. In fact, the irony of this is that Russia has recently agreed to provide helicopters to the EU mission in Chad.

According to the Council Joint Action of 15 September 2008 on the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia, the EU observers should work “in close coordination with partners, particularly the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).” But it is far from clear how the three organizations will work together. According to the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Andrei Nesterenko Russia believes that the EU’s Georgia mission “… would lead to an unnecessary fragmentation of international follow-up efforts in this country” as there are already missions run by the UN and the OSCE. The EU observers are not supposed to intervene in the event of riots but they may carry firearms for personal protection. There has been some talk on the uniforms of the EU observers and according to the Euobserver they will wear “ … flak jackets … blue berets and arm-bands bearing the 12-gold-star EU insignia to enable easy identification in the field.”

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ABOUT BILL CASH MP

Bill Cash has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Stone since 1997 and an MP since 1984.

He is currently the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee and the founder member of the European Foundation...

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