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US “landing force” in Caucasus as a persona non grata2009-07-30 15:04
Lately the world community has been actively discussing possibilities to invite US monitors to the EU mission in Georgia. Though final decision is postponed till autumn at the earliest, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is certain: US personnel in the Caucasus will do no good.
"This idea of including US monitors in the mission is extremely harmful, - Interfax quotes an unnamed source at the Russian foreign authority. - Firstly the US presence will sharply raise the potential for border provocations, given the US role in last year's events. Besides the presence of US monitors is unlikely to bring any change. Russia's stand on Abkhazia and South Ossetia remains in force". Moreover, according to the Foreign Ministry official this act will only add a new irritant to the US-Russian relations that are now improving.
As is known early last week Georgian Security Council Secretary Eka Tkeshelashvili stated that Georgia looked forward to the US participation in monitoring activities along the boundary with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, New York Times reports. This is how she explained this: "The United States have the potential for reaching a very tangible impact on Russia".
Later the possibility to deploy military observers in Georgia was mentioned by State Minister for Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili speaking about the US presence in Caucasus as a step to enhance security level in the region. Then it was Vice President of Georgia Georgy Baramidze who suggested transforming the EU mission embracing the US representatives from a monitoring to a police one.
So why does Georgia need US monitors? Does Tbilisi really invite overseas peacekeepers thinking of stabilization in the region or like Tkeshelashvili and Baramidze said hoping that Washington will pressurize Russia while US policemen will push Sukhum and Tskhinval?
Curiously enough, the US observers are not really welcome in the EU mission. Italian FM Franco Frattini sincerely admitted that the EU was not ready to include third countries in the peacekeeping group in Caucasus. "It is premature to speak about changes in the mission, especially with regard to inclusion of new countries", - ITAR-TASS quotes. And the diplomatic source in Brussels told RIA Novosti that the position of most EU member states was this: the monitoring mission in Georgia must remain a purely European effort, involvement of US observers might lead to aggravation of the security situation in the region.
It looks like the Georgian initiative is losing chances of being implemented. In light of planned reset between Moscow and Washington it's not worthwhile for the US to tease the important partner. Besides the EU comes forward with its own view of "the triangle". By the way the list of countries favoring Tbilisi's idea has turned out quite predictable on the whole. This is Great Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states of the ex USSR - now members of the pro-American-ant-Russian bloc, and the Netherlands. But to include third countries in the EU mission a relevant decision must be unanimously adopted by all EU member states. And there's a long way to go.
The work of EU missionaries in Tskhinval and Sukhum is equally unlikely.
According to RSO President's representative for post-conflict settlement Boris Chochiev there are no advances on the issue of a peaceful settlement in the Georgian-Ossetian relations from the West. "Today it is believed in Georgia that Western monitors will be able to monitor in South Ossetia too, - Rosbalt quotes. - This is self-deceit".