Government Formally Scraps Russian Peacekeeping

Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze signed a decree formally terminating Russian peacekeeping operations in Georgia, the government said in a statement on Friday.

The decree, dated August 27, preceded Parliament’s resolution passed on August 28 formally declaring Abkhazia and South Ossetia Russian-occupied territories, and calling Russian troops, occupying forces.

The resolution also instructed the government to annul all treaties based on which Russian peacekeeping forces have been deployed in the South Ossetian and Abkhaz conflict zones for over a decade. However, it only emerged on August 29 that the prime minister already had his signature on the relevant decree at the time Parliament was passing the resolution.

The decree says it aimed at implementing a Georgian parliamentary resolution passed in July, 2006.

In accordance with the decree, State Minister for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili will prepare a statement on declaring void the 1994 Moscow agreement on ceasefire and separation of forces – the treaty dealing with Abkhazia.

"This [agreement] has been supplanted by the six-point ceasefire agreement brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy," the decree reads.

Georgia’s withdrawal from the 1994 Moscow agreement will also affect the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), which has monitors on the ground in the Abkhaz conflict zone, observing the ceasefire agreement in cooperation with Russian peacekeeping troops.

The Georgian PM’s decree also instructs the Foreign Ministry to notify Russia of Tbilisi’s unilateral withdrawal from the 1992 Sochi agreement (also known as the Dagomis agreement) dealing with South Ossetia.

The decree also instructs cabinet ministers to formally notify the following institutions and individuals about the decree and the reasons for Georgia’s actions: the CIS Executive Committee, Heads of CIS member states, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary General, the OSCE Chairman and Secretary General, the Council of Europe Secretary General and Parliamentary Assembly, and the Presidency of the European Union.

The July 2006 resolution of the Georgian parliament, based on which the PM’s decree was issued, was the sixth of this type in a decade calling on the executive government to launch procedures to scrap the legal basis for Russian peacekeeping operations in Georgia. Three of those six resolutions were passed in the past three years under the Saakashvili administration. Parliament's August 28 post-fact resolution was the seventh one.

In June, less than two months before the armed conflict with Russia, Alexandre Lomaia, the secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council, said that Tbilisi had agreed to shelve a plan to demand the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers on the understanding that the EU and U.S. would use their influence with Moscow over the issue.

"Our American and European colleagues asked us to give them the chance to work with the Russians," Lomaia said on June 23.

[Source: Civil Georgian, Tbilisi, 29Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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