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Freedom of movement and access to education discussed at the 7th IPRM meeting in Gali

On 20 October in Gali, Georgian, Abkhaz, Russian and EUMM representatives attended the seventh Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting conducted under the auspices of the UN.

In a constructive atmosphere, the participants discussed incidents that took place in the period since the last meeting and provided further information and clarification on their occurrence. Recent helicopter flights in the proximity of the Enguri River were also raised.  The Russian participant confirmed that flights were taking place in the area, but denied any crossings of the line and ensured that pilots would act responsibly in this regard.

EUMM presented an overview of recent incidents in the Gali district.  Some of them had been broadcasted and published by Georgian media, but had not been independently verified, as EUMM has had so far no direct access to the region.  Participants commented and provided clarification on each incident, which, overall, appeared to have no direct security dimension.  It was suggested that alleged incidents should be discussed over the hot-line, to diffuse misunderstandings as quickly as possible.

Other issues taken up included freedom of movement, in particular for pupils travelling between Gali and Zugdidi districts. Although some aspects are still a cause of concern and will continue to be addressed at the next meetings, the overall situation was assessed as positive. EUMM, which is now the only international presence on the ground, will continue monitoring the situation and contributing its findings to the mechanism. 

The next meeting is scheduled to take place in Gali on 3 November 2009.

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