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It’s better to prevent a border incident than…2009-02-02 09:19
On 28th January the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) published a memorandum signed with Georgia in Tbilisi two days earlier on the creation of restricted arms zones on territory bordering Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This was reported officially by the mission itself.
Interfax reports that, according to the signed document, Georgia has agreed not to station armed formations of more than one batallion within 15 kilometres of the administrative borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. They will also not base weapons of more than 120mm calibre and over five front-line weapons, or armoured technology with 60-119mm calibre weapons in this area.
"This gives Georgia's armed forces," Civil.ge cites the deputy head of the EUMM operation Clive Trott, "certain opportunities to mount defensive actions. But with this amount of arms, it will be impossible to carry out offensive operations."
But what has most satisfied the other side? This is mentioned in an official statement from Georgia's Foreign Ministry, published by GHN: "The memorandum on mutual understanding is yet another expression of good will from Georgia and a sign of its willingness to implement the six-point ceasefire agreement of 12th August 2008 (the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan - A.G.)."
Therefore the European Union mission has taken on a certain responsibility for ensuring that there is no Georgian aggression against Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Meanwhile, on 27th January it was reported that the EU would also be controlling the movement of the Georgian military contingent in the zones bordering Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Interfax reported this with reference to Georgia's Defence Ministry. According to its press office, the respective document, which was also included in the memorandum, was signed by the Defence Minister Vasil Sikharulidze and the head of the EUMM Hansjörg Haber.
The German expert was left satisfied with the outcome of the meeting with Sikharulidze, noting that it was not easy for Georgia to take such a step because it had to "combine the military value of this document with its diplomatic significance". Haber viewed the signing of the memorandum as a "brave and unilateral step from Georgia", which should be an example to Russia, and called on Moscow to sign similar agreements with the EU.
"We must use all the channels at our disposal," Civil.ge cites Haber, "to encourage Russia to examine different responses and ensure the transparency of its troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia."