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What is the EU Monitoring Mission? What are the monitors doing? What is their role? These are the questions local people are asking as they see EUMM vehicles on the road or entering their village. As part of our confidence building operation we are keen to explain to local communities who we are and what we are doing. So on Monday 10 November the EUMM began a Public Information Outreach Programme starting in local schools both in the areas of our Poti and Bazaleti Field Offices.

From Bazaleti, the first presentation was at a school in Kvemo Chala . The school is located one and a half kilometres from the South Ossetian administrative boundary line. There were 233 students from 6 to 17 years old, including six students from South Ossetia.

The presentation was organized in three parts, first a brief explanation about the European Union, second an explanation of the EU Monitoring Mission - what we are doing in Georgia, our mandate and what can the children can expect from us and last a description of our daily routine of patrolling and reporting.

We were warmly welcomed by both teachers and children as there was a lot of interest in our arrival and what we had to say. The class was full as we made our presentation. At the end the floor was open for questions and there were many raised hands. The main issue was security as everyone was concerned for their safety – could the EUMM help to provide a safer environment, would people be able to live in peace. In total two hours passed by. After that we were treated to an extra hour as we were invited to take part in a class that grade 10 had organized for us on Georgian History and Literature, concentrating on the subjects of peace, freedom and democracy.

On Tuesday 11 November our second presentation took place in an Agriculture High School, the professional centre" of Tsinamdzghvriantkari, near Saguramo . The students were mainly 17, 18 years old and the picture was similar – there was a lot of enthusiasm and interest. This time more questions came from the teachers, the director of the school and the professors - the focus was much more on various political issues.

Overall very much a positive and worthwhile exercise. There is no doubt that there is a demand out there to know more about the work of the EUMM and its monitors and what we can do to bring about a more secure and stable future. This was a good start, and something on which we hope to build with many more events, presentations and leaflets to local communities.

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