Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/russia : Moscow Rejects Eu Presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/russia : Moscow Rejects Eu Presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Article excerpt

Only two days after Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitry Medvedev reached agreement in Moscow on Russia's troop withdrawal from Georgia, a new controversy has erupted between the EU and Moscow over the deployment of EU observers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. On 10 September, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said that the EU monitoring mission to be sent soon to Georgia will not have access to the two rebel provinces. Moscow's position contradicts statements made both by the French president and Javier Solana, the EU's diplomatic chief, who claimed that EU observers would have access to the entire territory of Georgia.

The EU monitoring mission, which will formally be approved by the 27 member states on 15 September, "will be deployed with the spirit that it can deploy everywhere," including the rebel areas of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Solana told journalists on 10 September. However, he indicated in front of the European Parliament that the deployment of the 200 EU observers would follow a step-by-step process and that they will appear in the two separatist provinces only during the concluding phase of this process. "We hope very much that as things develop there will also be possibility for the EU to [deploy] in those regions as well," he added. The EU mission's deployment on the ground will start in the coming weeks and is linked to the withdrawal of Russian forces agreed by the Russian president on 8 September in Moscow.

TENSIONS

The EU's diplomatic chief was reacting to comments made the same day by Lavrov. …

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