The EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) is an unarmed civilian monitoring mission. It was established by the European Union on 15 September 2008.
Over 200 civilian monitors were sent by EU Member States to contribute to the stabilisation of the situation on the ground following the August 2008 conflict. They monitor compliance by all sides with the EU brokered Six-Point Agreement of 12 August, signed by both Georgia and Russia, and the Agreement on Implementing Measures of 8 September 2008.
The Mission started its monitoring activities on 1 October 2008, beginning with oversight of the withdrawal of Russian armed forces from the areas adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Ever since, the Mission has been patrolling day and night, particularly in the areas adjacent to the South Ossetian and Abkhazian Administrative Boundary Lines. The Mission’s efforts have been primarily directed at observing the situation on the ground, reporting on incidents, and, generally, through its presence in the relevant areas, contributing to improving the security situation.
The Mission’s mandate consists of stabilisation, normalisation and confidence building, as well as reporting to the EU in order to inform European policy-making and thus contribute to the future EU engagement in the region.
EUMM is mandated to cover the whole territory of Georgia, within the country’s internationally recognised borders, but the de facto authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia have so far denied access to the territories under their control.
First and foremost, the Mission is working to prevent the renewal of an armed conflict, as well as to help make the areas adjacent to the Administrative Boundary Lines of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia safe and secure for the local residents. The Mission wants to contribute to create conditions whereby civilians can cross the Administrative Boundary Lines of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in both directions without fear and obstacles, thus reducing the detrimental effects of dividing lines.
Implementation of the Mandate
25 of 27 EU Member States contribute personnel, both women and men, from a variety of civilian, police and military backgrounds. This mixture of professional skills and experiences has been vital to ensure a balanced and effective approach to a complex environment.
The Mission has its Headquarters in Tbilisi and three Regional Field Offices in Mtskheta, Gori and Zugdidi.
The monitors in each Field Office are split into three teams covering:
• Confidence Building in the areas adjacent to the Abkhazian and South Ossetian Administrative Boundary Lines.
• Compliance with the Memoranda of Understanding signed between the Mission and the Georgian Ministries of Defence and Internal Affairs
• Human security aspects of conflict management
The Memorandum of Understanding signed between EUMM and the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs in October 2008 introduces a degree of transparency (and imposes restrictions) on the equipment used and the activities performed by the Georgian police forces in the adjacent areas.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed between EUMM and the Georgian Ministry of Defence in January 2009 and amended in July 2010 limits the Georgian Armed Forces’ positioning of troops and heavy equipment in the areas adjacent to the Administrative Boundary Lines. This unilateral engagement made by the Georgian government contributes to substantiating its commitment to the principle of non-use of force, as contained in the Six-Point Agreement. Security would be further enhanced if reciprocating measures were introduced by the Russian Federation.
Under an agreement reached at the Geneva Discussions in February 2009, regular meetings between all the parties to the conflict were to take place to discuss and resolve specific incidents and issues, with the aim of developing greater confidence and co-operation between the parties. This forum, called the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism, has held a series of meetings with participants from EUMM, UN, OSCE, Georgia, Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. . Attached to the Mechanism is a “hotline” telephone system working in both theatres. The hotline has proven very useful for participants to effectively establish a common understanding of events surrounding specific incidents and it has repeatedly helped to de-escalate arising tensions.
The Mission also monitors the normalisation of the situation after the 2008 war, including, inter alia, the restoration of the rule of law in the areas directly affected by the 2008 conflict and the return of normal living conditions for Internally Displaced Persons (both from the 1991 – 1993 and the 2008 wars) and local residents in areas adjacent to the Administrative Boundary Lines with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Thanks to its extensive presence on the ground, the Mission has the capacity to gather regular and timely information on the situation. This information is then passed on to the relevant local, national and international bodies responsible to provide concrete assistance.
• While results on the stabilisation component of EUMM’s mandate are tangible, significant work remains to be done as far as confidence building is concerned. At the same time, the Mission insists that giving it access also to South Ossetia and Abkhazia would help increase transparency, bring clarity on incidents that have already taken place and thus decrease the risk of future destabilising incidents.
• The 2008 Six-Point Agreement, together with the Implementing Measures, remains the basis for the continued presence of EUMM on the ground and its efforts towards stabilising the situation. Point Five of the Agreement remains to be implemented, as the continued presence of Russian Federation military personnel and equipment in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia represents a violation of this part of the Agreement.
• In the autumn of 2008, concerns that a resumption of hostilities was a concrete possibility, were widespread. Today, although the conflict is far from finding its solution, these fears are no more there. The sense of security among parties to the conflict and the population on the ground has increased and the process of stabilisation has consolidated
• The transparency of the activities of the Georgian police and armed forces has improved due to the two Memoranda of Understanding between EUMM and the Ministries of Defence and Internal Affairs respectively. This has helped stabilise the situation
• The Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meetings have registered some success, especially by offering an opportunity for all participants to discuss events and incidents, raise issues of concern on the general security situation and the conditions for the civilian population. .
• EUMM is perceived by the Georgian Government as an indispensible element to ensure security and stability in the areas adjacent to the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
• EUMM also has working contacts with the security forces of the Russian Federation present in the two theatres.