08TBILISI2050, GEORGIA: EUMM SEEKS TO FORMALIZE ARRANGEMENTS ON

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #08TBILISI2050.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2050 2008-11-04 10:20 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2501
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2050/01 3091020
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041020Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0340
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0139
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4713
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 2201

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 002050 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR GEORGIA COORDINATION GROUP AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/03/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: EUMM SEEKS TO FORMALIZE ARRANGEMENTS ON 
THE GROUND 
 
Classified By: CDA KENT LOGSDON FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary and comment.  The EU Monitoring Mission 
(EUMM) has made some progress in expanding its reach and 
effectiveness by making initial contact with Russian and 
South Ossetian authorities, increasing its patrols, and 
initiating discussions with Georgian authorities on an 
agreement to provide advance notice re force movements and a 
second agreement to be signed with all three parties on law 
enforcement cooperation.  Direct contact with the Russians 
and South Ossetians is clearly important, and the increased 
frequency of patrols is helpful in the face of continuing 
incidents along the de facto boundaries.  The agreements 
could be useful, but all sides are unlikely to agree to them 
in the short term.  Georgia's willingness to report force 
movements could score diplomatic points, and we have 
encouraged the EUMM to seek a similar agreement with Russia 
to throw Georgia's cooperation in starker relief.  Despite 
these positive developments, post believes the EUMM needs to 
be a bit more realistic in its assessment of the situation on 
the ground.  End summary and comment. 
 
INITIAL MEETINGS WITH SOUTH OSSETIANS 
 
2.  (SBU) In his October 30 weekly briefing for ambassadors, 
EUMM Head of Mission Hansjorg Haber noted that the EUMM had 
made initial contact with South Ossetian officials on October 
27.  EUMM officials crossed the administrative boundary at 
four different places that week, meeting with Russian 
officials at Ergneti and Koshka and South Ossetian officials 
at Monasteri and Akhmaji.  An EUMM patrol was also allowed to 
cross at Monasteri a second time and continue to the village 
of Abrevi; South Ossetian forces explained they were allowing 
this movement, which was not simply a meeting at the boundary 
but an actual patrol, because the EUMM was conducting a 
"civilian" patrol. 
 
3. (SBU) Haber noted that the four meetings had allowed the 
EUMM to establish initial working-level contacts with the 
Russian commander of Tskhinvali, Colonel Tarasov, and the 
South Ossetian "minister" of internal affairs, Mikhail 
Mindzayev.  Haber said he would be willing to meet separately 
with the South Ossetians one or two more times, but at that 
point would insist on Georgian involvement in any future 
meetings.  The Georgian side has told Haber it is ready to 
meet with South Ossetians to discuss practical issues.  The 
South Ossetian side indicated it was not opposed in principle 
to working with the Georgian ministry of internal affairs, 
but was not "morally and psychologically ready" at the 
moment.  At a November 3 meeting with Charge, however, Haber 
expressed frustration with the November 1 "government 
shuffle" in South Ossetia, noting that he would have to find 
a new contact, now that Mindzayev had been replaced. 
 
4. (SBU) A member of Haber's staff noted that the initial 
October 27 meeting with South Ossetians was preceded by an 
abortive attempt to meet on October 26, which the South 
Ossetian side tried to use--and may have intentionally 
staged--as a propaganda tool.  The South Ossetians invited 
the EUMM to meet on October 26 at Didi Gromi, but did not 
appear at the appointed time; the EUMM waited 90 minutes, 
then left.  An item later appeared in the Ossetian press 
accusing the EUMM of crossing the administrative boundary and 
Qaccusing the EUMM of crossing the administrative boundary and 
thereby violating its mandate. 
 
DRAFT AGREEMENTS 
 
5. (C) Haber explained that the EUMM had proposed a 
Memorandum of Understanding with the Georgian Ministry of 
Defense to establish a protocol for informing the EUMM of any 
military movements near the administrative boundary.  Haber 
explained that the EUMM's quest for such an agreement arose 
out of the diplomatic commitment President Saakashvili made 
to President Sarkozy regarding the non-use of force. 
Although the MoD's reaction was initially positive, it later 
hesitated out of concern that such an agreement would be a 
breach of Georgia's sovereignty.  Georgia also noted that the 
agreement's proposed territorial scope would come very close 
to Tbilisi, and emphasized the importance of being able to 
move troops as necessary to defend Tbilisi, especially with 
an apparently increased Russian presence in southeastern 
South Ossetia, in particular in the Akhalgori Valley.  Haber 
noted that so far he had not seen any violations of the 
Georgian government's oral pledge to the EUMM to keep 
military units out of the areas adjacent to South Ossetia, 
but the government was pushing the envelope with a small 
 
TBILISI 00002050  002 OF 003 
 
 
presence to the east of the Akhalgori Valley.  He added he 
had seen some progress on distinguishing between actual 
military units and special force
s of the Interior Ministry, 
but would like to see more. 
 
6. (SBU) The Charge asked if the EUMM planned to seek a 
similar MOU with the Russian side; Haber seemed surprised by 
the question and said no.  The Charge suggested that such a 
move, in addition to being more balanced, might make it 
easier for the Georgian side to take such a step.  Estonian 
Ambassador Toomas Lukk strongly concurred.  Haber expressed 
two concerns: that the EUMM would have no way of verifying 
Russian actions, and that the EUMM could not sign anything 
that would confer legitimacy on South Ossetia.  He ultimately 
agreed to consider the idea, but without much apparent 
enthusiasm.  At a subsequent November 3 meeting with the 
Charge, Haber said that the Georgians had been in touch to 
express interest in continuing the discussion about signing 
this MOU and that the EUMM planned to reengage and was ready 
to negotiate the wording of the text. 
 
7. (SBU) Haber told the Ambassadors that the EUMM had 
proposed a less formal agreement among the Georgian, Russian 
and South Ossetian sides to establish a working-level 
arrangement for law enforcement bodies to cooperate.  The 
idea would be to enable direct discussions on security 
incidents and arrangements for working together to respond, 
such as a hotline.  Haber raised the issue again with the 
Charge on November 3, suggesting that such a mechanism might 
help the parties ensure that the regular "border" flare-ups 
did not escalate.  According to Haber, the Georgian side 
expressed interest, although had some questions; the EUMM has 
heard nothing so far from the other two parties. 
 
ADMINISTRATIVE ADJUSTMENTS 
 
8. (SBU) Haber explained that in Brussels he had proposed 
some administrative changes to the EUMM.  In particular, in 
order to strengthen the mission's disposition around South 
Ossetia, the EUMM might reduce the geographic purview of the 
Gori field office, in order to enable it to cover its 
territory more effectively, adding some extra territory to 
the Tbilisi office's mandate.  The mission would also seek to 
increase the number of patrols it runs out of Gori, in 
particular night patrols, which it will seek to conduct all 
night.  That week the EUMM had drastically increased its 
total number of patrols from 115 the previous week to 495, 
including 45 night patrols (an increase from 19).  The 
mission was also seeking to improve its Rapid Reaction 
Force's ability to respond to incidents in western Georgia. 
 
9. (SBU) Haber noted that the mission would like to establish 
a more balanced mix of nationalities within individual 
patrols, because a patrol staffed by personnel from the same 
country might have a different set of priorities than a 
patrol from a different country.  Practical considerations, 
however, such as language compatibility and the fact that 
some countries had contributed vehicles in tandem with 
observers, made this easier said than done.  The mission was 
also trying to improve its Georgian language capacity; 
virtually all of its current interpreters speak only Russian. 
 
SPECIFIC POINTS OF CONCERN: PEREVI, ERITSKALI AND KODORI 
 
10. (SBU) Haber reported that on October 26, an EUMM patrol 
was stopped at the Russian checkpoint outside Perevi. 
Qwas stopped at the Russian checkpoint outside Perevi. 
Russian troops have on two occasions admitted to EUMM patrols 
that their checkpoint is outside of South Ossetia (OSCE has 
reported hearing the same admission), and all maps indicate 
the village itself is outside.  Nevertheless, the troops 
insisted they had to escort the patrol into the village. 
Because they had no vehicles, however, the Russians insisted 
the EUMM patrol proceed on foot into the village.  Local 
villagers, who are primarily farmers, reported that they are 
unable to access the meadows across the boundary, which they 
customarily use for grazing their cattle.  The EUMM also 
heard that South Ossetian forces plan to establish a 
checkpoint north of Perevi.  The road leading north out of 
the village of Perevi turns to the east and enters South 
Ossetia; it is not clear exactly where a new South Ossetian 
checkpoint would stand. 
 
11. (SBU) An EUMM staff member reviewed the events of October 
25 in Eritskali (see septel), in which EUMM monitors actually 
witnessed an exploson that killed two, including the local 
head of administration.  Haber later said EUMM monitors had 
 
TBILISI 00002050  003 OF 003 
 
 
heard from locals that the attack may have been a "settling 
of accounts," seeming to downplay the potential political 
import of the event.  He also later expressed satisfaction 
that this had been the only fatal incident along the two 
administrative boundaries since the EUMM began its 
operations, adding that Brussels was also "pleasantly 
surprised" by the relative lack of serious incidents. 
 
12. (SBU) A member of Haber's staff reported that the EUMM 
conducted its first patrol into the Kodori Valley, going as 
far as the Khida Pass, from which it saw a Russian 
checkpoint.  The EUMM did not attempt to pass the checkpoint. 
 
COMMENT: THE GLASS MAY HAVE SOME WATER, BUT IS NOT YET HALF 
FULL 
 
13. (C) Considering that it has been on the ground for less 
than a month, the EUMM has made impressive strides in 
establishing itself and contributing to stability on the 
ground.  Establishing contacts with the Russians and South 
Ossetians is a positive development; the administrative 
adjustments they propose will most likely improve their 
operations; and the agreements they have proposed could 
ultimately make a real difference in reducing the chance of 
violence.  However, challenges remain.  The Russian side 
should have provided a good contact weeks ago; it is not 
clear that the EUMM yet has one with the South Ossetian side, 
and in any case the Ossetians have not shown themselves as 
reliable partners.  The agreements will be a long time 
coming; even if the Georgians agree to a unilateral 
commitment, they will at best gain a diplomatic victory in 
the short term.  Most importantly, it may be that EUMM is 
underestimating the seriousness of current flashpoints.  The 
South Ossetian administrative boundary has not seen any 
deaths in recent weeks, but it has seen several incidents 
that could easily have ended in fatalities.  The Eritskali 
events were more serious than Haber seemed to suggest, and he 
was not even aware of several other deaths in the Gali region 
reported in the press.  Although the proposed agreements 
represent an important step toward medium-term cooperation 
and conflict prevention, we are still in the stage of 
averting immediate threats.  End comment. 
LOGSDON

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: