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Georgia: EU observers can’t get in and Sarkozy gets his dates wrong

Today [1 October], the EU autonomous civilian monitoring mission in Georgia was deployed in accordance with the EU-Russia Agreement on 8 September.

On 1 October, the EU observers begin to monitor the ceasefire between Georgia and Russia. Russia has said that it pull out its troops from the buffer zones by 10 October which will be then replaced by EU observers. In fact, EU observers were supposed to be in position inside the buffer zones by 1 October.

However, according to the BBC, several teams of EU observers were not allowed by the Russian troops to enter the buffer zone for “security reasons.” It remains to be seen what will happen over the following days up until 10 October as the EU mission is taking a step by step approach. But it seems that at the moment there is no agreement on the access for the EU observers to the buffer zone. The EU is hopping to extend its mission to the breakaway regions, which Russia strongly opposes. In fact, Russia has recently announced that will keep about 8000 troops inside South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

In the meantime, the EU put itself in a very embarrassing position. At the European Council extraordinary meeting in September, the EU leaders called for an international conference to be held to assist reconstruction in Georgia. The date for the launch of international talks on the future of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (15 October) was decided at the cease fire agreement on 12 August and confirmed at the Sarkozy, Barroso and Medvedev EU agreement on 8 September. However at that time, nobody remembered that the European Council was scheduled to take place also on that date. It was extremely embarrassing to the EU when it indicated that the Geneva meeting should be postponed because of the EU summit.

Nevertheless, on 23 September Javier Solana announced that the Geneva meeting on the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would still take place on 15 October. He said it will take place “on the expert level” and not at “ministerial level.” A French diplomat told Europolitics that “The experts are to prepare the ground for the top-level talks. They will decide on the modalities and scope of negotiations, which will be then taken over by the top diplomats.”

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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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