09TBILISI808, GEORGIA: FIRST MEETING OF INCIDENT PREVENTION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI808 2009-04-28 13:00 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0875
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0808/01 1181300
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281300Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1458
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0208
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TBILISI 000808 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2019 
TAGS: PGOV MOPS RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: FIRST MEETING OF INCIDENT PREVENTION 
MECHANISM 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 0674 
     B. GENEVA 0183 
     C. MOSCOW 1082 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and comment.  The first meeting of the Joint 
Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (JIPRM) was held 
on April 23 on the South Ossetian administrative boundary 
line at Ergneti.  The fact the meeting occurred was a minor 
victory itself, and the parties agreed to hold a subsequent 
meeting the first week of May.  No actual incidents were 
discussed, however, and only marginal progress was made on 
procedural issues.  The South Ossetian and Russian 
participants sought to undermine the OSCE's role in the 
process, suggesting that the EU and Russia should be 
co-chairs.  Both the EUMM and the OSCE believe that the next 
meeting is unlikely to be useful unless the chairmanship 
issue is resolved beforehand.  Although the fact of the 
meeting is indeed positive, the mechanism will only be useful 
it can be structured in a practical way, to enable the 
consideration of concrete concerns without the introduction 
of intractable political issues.  Initial signals from the 
South Ossetians and Russians suggest the latter might be 
their intention.  End summary and comment. 
 
THE FORMAT 
 
2. (SBU) On April 24, EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) Chief of 
Mission Hansjoerg Haber offered his diplomatic colleagues a 
readout of the meeting (most of the following account is 
based on his comments).  The parties involved included the 
EUMM, OSCE, Georgia, Russia, and South Ossetian de facto 
authorities, with several delegations sending fairly senior 
representatives (see paragraph 13 for a list of 
participants).  The meeting started a few minutes after 1300 
in a tent on the administrative boundary near Ergneti and 
lasted nearly four hours; much of the time was spent on 
interpretation.  The day was cold, with temperatures hovering 
around the freezing point and bits of snow drifting into the 
venue.  Haber and Deputy Head of the OSCE Conflict Prevention 
Center Pascal Heyman co-chaired the meeting.  (The issue of 
the chairmanship came up several times, however, with the 
South Ossetians and Russians objecting to the OSCE's 
involvement.)  The formal agenda focused on the logistics and 
format of the JIPRM itself and included eight items, although 
not all items were discussed: 1) Location; 2) Working 
language; 3) Meeting agendas; 4) Official minutes of the 
meetings; 5) Chairmanship; 6) Calendar of meetings; 7) 
Hotline; and 8) Joint visits.  Afterwards the various parties 
made statements to journalists on the scene, who represented 
mostly Georgian outlets, but also included at least one 
Russian reporter. 
 
THE DISCUSSION 
 
3. (C) The chairmanship issue came up the most often and 
raised the most contention.  Haber took the position that the 
JIPRM derived from the Geneva process, which is co-chaired by 
the EU, OSCE and UN, so the South Ossetia version of the 
Mechanism should be chaired by the two Geneva chairs that 
work in the area (i.e., EUMM and OSCE).  South Ossetia's 
primary representative, Merab Chigoev, first objected to the 
EUMM's role as chair; Haber offered to work as a 
"facilitator" instead, which Chigoev seemed to accept. 
Chigoev then rejected the OSCE outright, arguing that the 
organization has no mandate to operate.  He proposed that 
Russia and the EUMM should co-chair the meetings, and the 
Russian participants expressed their willingness to accept 
QRussian participants expressed their willingness to accept 
the nomination.  A Russian representative even suggested that 
he Geneva talks themselves derived from, as he referred to 
it, the Sarkozy-Medvedev agreement, so the EU and Russia 
should therefore serve as chairs.  Haber, OSCE's Pascal 
Heyman, and Georgia's Shota Utiashvili (Ministry of Internal 
Affairs) all pushed back, and the issue was left unresolved. 
In his briefing for diplomats, Haber characterized the South 
Ossetian and Russian maneuver as an obvious setup, designed 
to undermine the OSCE's position; in a later conversation, an 
OSCE monitor described it to PolOff the same way. 
 
4. (SBU) On the question of location, the South Ossetians had 
originally indicated they would only accept meetings right on 
the administrative boundary line (where the April 23 meeting 
took place), but the physical difficulties of meeting in a 
tent apparently convinced them to be more flexible.  All 
agreed to hold the next meeting south of the administrative 
boundary line, in Georgian-controlled territory, although the 
specific venue (likely to be some kind of a public building, 
such as a school) was not identified.  The location of 
 
TBILISI 00000808  002 OF 004 
 
 
subsequent meetings was not determined. 
 
5. (C) On the working language, Haber insisted the JIPRM 
follow the format of the Geneva talks and be conducted in 
English an
d Russian.  The Russians suggested that Russian 
would be more practical, since most participants spoke 
Russian, but Haber insisted on English.  Although the 
Russians portrayed their suggestion as a purely pragmatic 
one, Haber suggested to his diplomatic colleagues that over 
the course of the meeting it became clear that the Russians 
saw the use of Russian as more than simply a practical 
choice; they seemed to want to make the format of the 
meetings as close to that of the old Joint Control Commission 
(JCC) as possible.  In a separate conversation, OSCE delegate 
Steve Young noted to PolOff that at least one of the Russian 
participants spoke no English.  He also pointed out that 
conducting the meetings in Russian would give the Russian 
participants much greater control over the nuances of the 
discussion and any statements or documents that were produced. 
 
6. (SBU) Haber told the diplomatic corps he had proposed a 
generic agenda, to be used in all meetings, consisting of 
four points: 1) Assessment of the situation; 2) Exchange of 
information on incidents; 3) Discussion of the freedom of 
movement; and 4) Other business.  Parties could provide 
information before the meeting, to be able to discuss it at 
the meeting, or could provide the information at the meeting 
and then discuss it at the following session.  On the 
discussion of incidents, parties would take turns raising 
individual occurrences, so that the parties themselves could 
determine their priorities for discussion.  Haber did not 
receive a reaction to this proposal. 
 
7. (C) Regarding the schedule of the JIPRM's meetings, the 
Russian participants proposed biweekly sessions (which, as 
Haber pointed out to his diplomatic colleagues, was not in 
accordance with the original Geneva proposal for weekly 
meetings, although he did not raise an objection).  They said 
they would next be available between May 3 and May 7.  Haber 
interpreted this to mean that the Russian side again wanted 
to send a relatively high-level delegation from Moscow.  The 
sides agreed to this timeframe.  On the hotline, everyone 
agreed such a structure should function, but at this point 
the EUMM only has a phone number for Colonel Anatoliy 
Tarasov, Commander of the Russian Forces in Tskhinvali (who 
also participated in this meeting).  The meeting did not take 
up the issue of joint visits, but the Russian side said it 
considered them important, which surprised Haber. 
 
8. (SBU) At the conclusion of the meeting, Haber noted that 
the group had not reached much agreement.  Major General 
Vyacheslav Proshkin, of the Russian Ministry of Defense 
(MOD), who is the Chief of the CIS Military Cooperation 
Department, however, portrayed it as a success, because the 
fact that the JIPRM met at all was important.  He made a 
similar statement to the press.  In his public statement, 
Haber also expressed some optimism, but injected a bit more 
caution into his tone than Proshkin. 
 
ANALYSIS 
 
9. (C) In summary, Haber told the assembled diplomats that an 
optimist would conclude that the fact that the meeting took 
place at all was positive; that optimist would likewise 
explain that all sides felt the need to take a tough initial 
position in order to position themselves for future 
compromises.  He did not seem to be quite this optimistic, 
Qcompromises.  He did not seem to be quite this optimistic, 
however (as other European counterparts reported to Embassy 
Moscow, ref C).  He said that the chairmanship issue was a 
serious one, and that if it was not worked out before the 
next meeting, the next discussion would be chaotic, and the 
meeting would not be worth holding.  He suggested that EU 
Special Representative Pierre Morel would have to get 
involved in the meantime to work something out.  In a 
separate conversation, OSCE's Young agreed, saying that 
starting another meeting without consensus on the 
chairmanship would prevent the mechanism from accomplishing 
anything. 
 
10. (C) Haber saw the South Ossetian and Russian proposal for 
a joint EU-Russia chairmanship as a clear attack on the OSCE; 
Young agreed with this assessment.  Another OSCE monitor told 
PolOff that the meeting has had a very negative impact on the 
OSCE monitors' morale, which was already low; they 
interpreted the Russian position as a clear signal of their 
intention to shut the OSCE mission down.  The monitor pointed 
out that one of the Russian delegates played a key role in 
the closing of the OSCE's former Border Monitoring Mission 
along Georgia's border with Russia; he wondered if his 
 
TBILISI 00000808  003 OF 004 
 
 
involvement was intended to send a signal that the OSCE 
mission was likewise on the chopping block. 
 
11. (C) The OSCE monitor added that his colleagues felt that, 
during the meeting, Haber and the EUMM also slighted the OSCE 
mission, if only through petty, perhaps even unintentional 
snubs.  He worried that such unspoken signals might be 
interpreted by the Russians as a tacit willingness by the EU 
eventually to sacrifice the OSCE's involvement.  For example, 
EUMM staff did not share its planned agenda for the meeting 
with the OSCE until the morning of April 23, a couple of 
hours before the meeting.  Upon arriving at the site, the 
OSCE representatives found that the road to the tent was 
blocked by an EUMM vehicle, so that they had to approach on 
foot, while the EUMM had parked right by the tent.  The OSCE 
representatives found EU flags erected at the site, but had 
not been asked to bring an OSCE one; they had to scrounge a 
flag from an OSCE vehicle and hastily hoist it.  Upon 
entering the meeting, the EUMM officials did not formally 
greet the OSCE representatives (who had arrived first), 
although they did greet the other parties.  In his 
presentation to the diplomats, however, Haber made clear that 
he considered the role of the EUMM and OSCE as co-chairs to 
be non-negotiable. 
 
COMMENT: NOT THE JCC! 
 
12. (C) The OSCE monitor told PolOff he thought the South 
Ossetians and Russians are seeking to turn the JIPRM into a 
new JCC -- i.e., a forum for consideration of political 
issues, not practical incidents.  He noted that the mechanism 
conceived in Geneva should consist of working-level 
counterparts who know the real situation on the ground and 
can work together pragmatically to resolve concrete concerns. 
 The high-level Russian delegation could signal a different 
intent, and if -- as Haber believes -- the Russians continue 
to send generals (who do not spend much time in South Ossetia 
and presumably are not that familiar with day-to-day issues), 
practical discussions will indeed be difficult to arrange. 
It could be, of course, that the Russians are very serious 
about the mechanism and only intend to signal their respect 
for the process.  If Haber and Young are right, however, and 
a major Russian goal is to marginalize the OSCE, then a 
follow-on goal might be to establish a second
venue for 
political discussions as a rival to Geneva, where the OSCE 
also has a seat.  Not only would such a goal undermine the 
Geneva process, but it would undermine the still-urgent 
objective of reducing the likelihood of violence and its 
potential for escalation. 
 
PARTICIPANTS 
 
13. (U) The EUMM provided the following list of participants. 
 
EUMM: Hansjoerg Haber, Head of Mission; Gilles Janvier, 
Deputy Head of Mission; Gerard Fischer, Head of Operations; 
Rosaria Puglisi, Political Advisor.  Acting as interpreters: 
Rinas Bendzius, Liaison Officer at Georgian Ministry of 
Internal Affairs (MOIA); Per Enerud, Chief Reporting Officer. 
 
OSCE: Pascal Heyman, Deputy Director of the Conflict 
Prevention Center; Gottfried Hanne, Deputy Head of Mission; 
Steve Young, Chief Military Officer; Laszlo Belagyi, Chief 
Security Officer. 
 
Russian Federation: General Antonov, Deputy Chief of Staff of 
the Russian Ground Forces; Major General Vyacheslav Proshkin, 
Ministry of Defense (MOD), Chief of CIS Military Cooperation 
Department; Aleksey Dvinyanin, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 
Chief of Division, Fourth Department on CIS Countries; 
QChief of Division, Fourth Department on CIS Countries; 
Colonel Ruslan Boyarski, MOD; Colonel Anatoliy Tarasov, 
Commander of the Russian Forces in Tskhinvali; Lieutenant 
Colonel Andrey Lyatichevsk, Assistant to Commander of the 
Military Base in Military-Civilian Cooperation, Tskhinvali. 
 
Georgia: Shota Utiashvili, Ministry of Internal Affairs 
(MOIA), Head of the Information and Analytical Department; 
Vladimer Jugeli, MOIA, Head of the Shida Kartli Regional Main 
Division; Giorgi Lomidze, MOIA, Head of Administration of 
Shida Kartli Regional Main Division. 
 
South Ossetia de facto authorities: Merab Ilyich Chigoev, 
deputy head of the de facto "plenipotentiary representative 
of the president of the republic of South Ossetia for 
post-conflict settlement issues"; Vitaly Georgievich Gassiev, 
de facto "first deputy minister of the interior"; Gennady 
Nikolaevich Yemelyanenko, de facto "deputy head of the border 
guards service"; Vadim Otarovich Syukayev, de facto "deputy 
chief of staff of the ministry of defense"; Guram 
 
TBILISI 00000808  004 OF 004 
 
 
Grigorievich Sobayev, advisor to the de facto 
"plenipotentiary representative of the president of the 
republic of South Ossetia for post-conflict settlement 
issues." 
TEFFT

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