News and Features

Ambassador Haber on Fact Finding Mission to the Gori Region

One of the tasks of the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) is to provide EU policy and decision makers with objective and precise information about what is happening on the ground. Therefore, the Head of Mission, Ambassador Hansjörg Haber, regularly travels to Brussels to brief the representatives of the 27 EU Member States. His next trip to Brussels is planned for this week. In order to prepare for this trip and obtain a first hand insight into the situation on the ground, Ambassador Haber, together with a small delegation from EUMM Headquarters, visited the Gori region last Friday (6 March).

The first stop was Shavshvebi – a small village near the main East-West highway. Almost half of its 225 inhabitants are ethnic Ossetians. Many of them live in mixed marriages. Whilst there is no tension due to the ethnic background of the inhabitants, all villagers complained about the lack of water supply. The actual lack of water has already affected the agricultural work for this year. One solution could be digging a new well and setting up a new fountain. However, the village has no funds for this project.

In Koshka – the second stop of the trip – the Head of Mission visited the Georgian police checkpoint at the administrative boundary line. He could see a group of conscripts from the Georgian police academy setting up sandbag walls around the checkpoint to protect the checkpoint staff from gunfire. A number of local people came up to the EUMM delegation and reported their everyday difficulties. Many of those villagers living in the immediate vicinity of the administrative boundary line are still frightened after last August’s events and fear a repetition of hostilities – just as their neighbours on the other side of the administrative boundary line most probably do. Unfortunately, last August’s hostilities cut all contacts between not only the entities but also the local population on both sides.

Ambassador Haber concluded his one-day trip with a visit to the EUMM Field Office in Gori. In a meeting with the monitors, he listened to their experiences from their daily patrols. All of them underlined the need for the establishment of measures that would help restore confidence between the two sides of the administrative boundary line.

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