EUMM Head: ‘It will take patience and time to reach the stage, where we can move from managing the conflict to actually resolving it. In the meantime locals at the ABL will most probably continue to face a number of negative challenges’
-As it is known, the European Union Monitoring Mission mandate covers the whole territory of Georgia, however the breakaway regions – Abkhazian and the so called South Ossetian de facto authorities until now do not allow the Mission to enter the territories under their control. How effective, in your opinion, is the activity of the Mission under these conditions, what is being done to change this situation and whether you see the real perspective of this?
- Yes, since the very beginning the EUMM mandate covers all territory of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. It is also true that Mission was never allowed into Abkhazia or South Ossetia. We find that regretful, as the Mission is the only international monitoring mechanism in place. We aim at strictly following the principle of “operational impartiality” in monitoring.
Despite the absence of that access, EUMM successfully carries its duties for over 8 years now. We extensively patrol along both Administrative Boundary Lines and observe what we can on both sides. Recently we are upgrading our technical observation means to improve collection of data.
We keep talking to the commuters – people who have access and who are interested telling us what happens on the other side of the Administrative Boundary Line. We also use all other available monitoring means to compensate for the lack of access, like open source information and analysis.
We participate in Incident Prevention and Response mechanisms in Ergneti and Gali and we operate Hot Line where information among security actors exchange information about events and situation on the ground. I would argue that we follow very closely what happens everywhere and know a lot. All of that is integrated and reported to Brussels and EU member states as well as to the wider international community.
We work closely with Geneva International Discussions Co-Chairs who have access and support them with factual information from the field. EUSR and other EU representatives consistently raise the issue of Mission access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I hope that one day Mission will gain that access, and it will benefit all, because Mission will be able to report in greater detail about the situation on the ground on both sides of the Administrative Boundary Line and gain more understanding of all challenges and perspectives.
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