EU for probe into Georgia crisis

September 7th, 2008 - 12:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Avignon (France), Sep 7 (Xinhua) The European Union (EU) has said there is a need to look into the series of events in the run up to the recent conflict between Georgia and Russia and the deployment of a EU observer mission to monitor the implementation of a peace deal. “We all stressed that there is a need for an international investigation as to how the crisis developed in Georgia,” said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who chaired an informal EU foreign ministers’ meeting Saturday.

“That investigation needs to be launched as soon as possible,” he said.

Kouchner did not give details of the modality of such an investigation. He indicated that it could involve international bodies, non-governmental organizations or the UN.

He noted that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said he would immediately send a fact-finding mission to South Ossetia.

Georgia launched an attack on South Ossetia Aug 7 in an attempt to regain control of the breakaway region.

Tbilisi’s move triggered prompt reaction from Russia, whose troops drove Georgian forces out of the region and moved deep into the Georgian territory.

Since the start of the conflict, Tbilisi and Moscow have been accusing each other of ethnic cleansing.

The immediate developments in the run up to the military conflict remain a myth.

EU spokesperson Cristina Gallach said Friday that EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana spoke to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on the morning of Aug 7 and urged him restraint in face of the escalating tension between Georgia and Russia.

Saakashvili told Solana that he had offered a ceasefire to the Russians. Gallach said she could not explain why the conflict started before midnight Aug 7.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who brokered a six-point peace plan, will travel to Moscow and Tbilisi Monday in an attempt to secure a complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia proper.

The six-point peace plan provides for withdrawal of Georgian and Russian troops to pre-conflict positions.

The West is accusing Russia of failing to honour its commitments by establishing security zones on the border of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia’s another breakaway region.

The West also condemned Russia for its recognition of the two regions as independent states.

EU foreign ministers Saturday also agreed in principle to send an observer mission to Georgia to monitor the implementation of a peace plan between the Caucasus country and Russia.

“We will have an observer mission in Georgia,” Solana said at the end of the meeting.

Such a mission would be the EU’s first in Caucasus, although it has had experience in the Balkans, Solana said.

He said a formal decision is expected at the foreign ministers’ meeting Sep 15.

Russia has refused to allow Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers to re-enter South Ossetia after the Georgia-Russia conflict.

Kouchner asked Russia to withdraw its troops from Georgia proper. At the same time, he stressed the need for the EU to maintain dialogue with Russia.

“Russia is a great country and Russia is our neighbour. No doubt, we must find the way to talk to each other,” he said.

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