09TBILISI82, GEORGIA: MOD CLOSE TO SIGNING MOU WITH EUMM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI82 2009-01-15 14:30 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7711
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0082/01 0151430
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 151430Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0768
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0165
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4758
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 2238

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000082 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/09/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS KBTS RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: MOD CLOSE TO SIGNING MOU WITH EUMM 
 
REF: A. 08 TBILISI 2118 
     B. 08 TBILISI 2458 
     C. STATE 3291 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (U) This is an action cable.  Please see paragraph 5. 
 
2. (C) Summary and comment.  On January 14, Deputy Defense 
Minister Giorgi Muchaidze summoned PolOff and Acting DATT to 
explain the government's position on a draft agreement with 
the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and seek U.S. comment.  The 
Ministry is ready to sign, but is awaiting a response from 
the EUMM on a few proposed changes.  According to the 
agreement, the Ministry voluntarily agrees to limit military 
activity in zones around Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to 
inform the EUMM of all significant tactical exercises.  The 
two sides have agreed on the basic parameters of the 
agreement, including the definition of the zones.  The major 
change proposed by the Ministry is to split the agreement in 
two, with one greement on South Ossetia and one on Abkhazia; 
it is prepared to sign the South Ossetia agreement now, but 
wants to wait on the Abkhazia agreement pending a decision by 
February 15 on the future of the UN Observer Mission to 
Georgia (UNOMIG).  Post does not see any major disadvantage 
for Georgia in signing and sees potential political benefit 
if we can work with the EU to use the agreement to put 
pressure on Russia to follow suit.  Post requests Department 
guidance on responding to the Georgian request for U.S. 
comment.  End summary and comment. 
 
THE SHAPE OF THE AGREEMENT 
 
3. (C) Muchaidze, along with Head of the Ministry's 
Analytical Department David Nardaia (who worked on the text), 
summoned EmbOffs to present the latest draft of the proposed 
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated between the 
Ministry of Defense and the EUMM (draft text emailed to 
EUR/CARC).  The two-page document takes as its point of 
departure the Six-Point Agreement (August 12 cease-fire), in 
particular Georgia's commitment as part of that agreement to 
"abstain from recourse to the use of force."  The MOU bars 
the Ministry from "any significant movement or re-deployment 
of its units of Battalion strength or greater and all 
artillery and mortars with a calibre of 120mm or more, and 
more than 5 armoured vehicles with a calibre more than 60mm 
but less than 120mm" in zones around the conflict areas.  It 
commits the Ministry to informing the EUMM of any "tactical 
exercises . . . larger than a Battalion in strength" at least 
48 hours in advance, and it allows the EUMM to visit "the 
sites of permanent dislocations of MOD armed forces" with 
24-hour prior notice.  The declaration of a state of 
emergency by the government automatically terminates the 
agreement.  Also, either party can terminate the agreement 
with one week's notice (this provision has not been agreed to 
by the EUMM, but the Ministry does not expect it to be 
controversial.)  Once signed, the MOU will be made public. 
 
THE ZONES 
 
4. (C) The zone around South Ossetia, already agreed by both 
sides, is defined most precisely on a map annex to the MOU. 
It is a rough rectangle surrounding South Ossetia, defined on 
the west by a straight north-south line running through Oni 
and Sachkere, on the south by a line roughly following but 
just north of the east-west-highway, and on the east by the 
Mchadidjvari-Dusheti-Ananuri Road and the Georgian Military 
QMchadidjvari-Dusheti-Ananuri Road and the Georgian Military 
Highway.  Significantly it does not include the east-west 
highway or the Military Highway themselves. 
 
5. (C) The zone around Abhazia is a 15 kilometer-wide band 
opposite the Abkhaz side of the administrative boundary. 
Although the EUMM had originally proposed a 20 kilometer 
band, the Ministry decided the extra five kilometers would 
create an unacceptable delay for responses to attacks at the 
boundary.  Muchaidze noted specific concern over the portions 
of land outside Abkhazia but north of the Enguri River near 
Gahmukhuri and Khurcha (see ref B).  The extra five 
kilometers would also include the port of Kulevi, which the 
Ministry likewise found unacceptable.  Although it is in 
principle ready to accept this zone, the Ministry has decided 
to reserve its final decision until a decision on the future 
of UNOMIG is made. 
 
HEY PARTNER -- WHAT DO YOU THINK? 
 
TBILISI 00000082  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
5. (C) Muchaidze said the Ministry is ready to sign the 
document immediately, pending the EUMM's response to its 
proposed changes (in particular the proposal to split the MOU 
in two).  He added, however, the Ministry wanted to inform 
the United States, as Georgia's new strategic partner (ref &#x0
00A;C), of the pending agreement and seek any comments and 
recommendations that the U.S. might have, to include whether 
or not to sign the agreement.  Post therefore requests 
Department guidance on a suitable response.  Paragraphs 6-8 
contain post's thoughts. 
 
COMMENT -- MORE PLUSES THAN MINUSES 
 
6. (C) Any country would naturally pause before unilaterally 
and voluntarily limiting its own sovereign right to deploy 
its defense forces anywhere on its own territory at any time, 
without having to inform anyone.  Nevertheless, Georgia faces 
unusual circumstances, including the presence of nearly 8,000 
(and possibly more) foreign troops on its own territory, and 
it seems to understand that there are potential benefits to 
showing flexibility to prevent further violence and 
ultimately promote a peaceful resolution of the current 
situation.  There is a risk that domestic political critics 
will portray the MOU -- and its (largely symbolic) 
relinquishing of sovereignty -- as a sign of weakness.  The 
government seems to have determined that any limitations this 
MOU places on the Ministry, along with any domestic political 
risks, will be offset by the potential gains in cooperation 
with the EUMM and the broader international community. 
 
7. (C) Furthermore, an analysis of the limitations accepted 
by the Ministry indicates that, in practice, the Ministry is 
not imposing on itself any truly onerous requirements. 
Although battalion-strength units and artillery above 120mm 
are barred from the zones, smaller units and artillery are 
not, and the zones are sufficiently narrow to allow rapid 
movements of the larger units and equipment if necessary. 
Additionally, in an extreme situation, the government can 
cancel the agreement.  Finally, as a non-binding MOU, the 
agreement does not impose any legal constraints on the 
Ministry; only political ones.  If a situation arose in which 
the Ministry felt it had to cancel or even beach the terms 
of the agreement, the government would probably be facing 
larger political concerns than its good terms with the EUMM. 
 
8. (C) Post believes that the potential benefits to Georgia 
outweigh the potential risks.  For Georgia to reap those 
benefits, however, the EUMM will need to approach Russia with 
a proposal for a similar agreement on the Abkhaz and South 
Ossetia sides of the boundaries -- and share with the 
international community Russia's response.  According to 
Muchaidze, the EUMM has already proposed such an arrangement 
with Russia, and the latter responded with a completely 
unacceptable counter-proposal that would commit Russia only 
to informing the EUMM of any movements outside Abkhazia and 
South Ossetia.  (The EUMM has not informed post of such a 
proposal to the Russians.)  Although the MOU's risks for 
Georgia are minimal on an operational level, it does 
represent a restriction on Georgia's own sovereignty, and it 
does therefore carry domestic political risks.  Georgia's 
flexibility deserves recognition, as does its re-commitment 
to the non-use of force -- a concession the Russians, South 
Qto the non-use of force -- a concession the Russians, South 
Ossetians and Abkhaz seem unable to provide.  If we recommend 
that Georgia sign this MOU, we should be ready to take the 
steps necessary to help Georgia reap the rewards. 
TEFFT

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