Georgia wants more monitors on ceasefire line

18th December 2013, Comments 0 comments

Georgia on Wednesday urged the international community to bolster an observer mission along a ceasefire line fixed after Russian defeated its former satellite in a lightning war in 2008.

After a two-day round of peace talks in Geneva, Georgia's chief negotiator David Zalkaliani said an expanded monitoring presence was needed to deal with a raft of ceasefire violations by Russia and pro-Moscow forces in breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

"The Georgian participants once again emphasised the need to revive discussions in relation to the creation of international security arrangements," Zalkaliani told reporters.

He said such a move would be the "best guarantee" of security for Georgia, given that Moscow has declined to join Tbilisi in renouncing force as an option in the long-running conflict.

"Our aim is to create an international presence that will be able to monitor the situation across the occupation line inside the affected regions," Zalkaliani said, adding that proposals would be tabled at further talks in March.

There are currently some 200 European Union observers in the region.

Despite their bitter differences, Georgia and Russia have continued talking under the auspices of the EU, the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, with Tuesday and Wednesday seeing the 26th round of negotiations.

Georgia and its Soviet-era master went to war in August 2008 over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which split from Georgia after the USSR crumbled in 1991.

Russia had deployed troops there in the 1990s, and says the war was a response to a Georgian attack.

Russia recognised the regions' independence after the war, but Georgia and the overwhelming majority of the international community still consider them its territory.

Zalkaliani said the security and human rights situation on the ground was "alarming".

He protested the "continuing build up of the military and security infrastructure, Georgian airspace violations, kidnapping, murders, detentions and other alarming incidents".

A major flashpoint is the construction by Russian troops and the breakaway regions' security forces of barbed-wire fences and trenches along the ceasefire line, seen by Georgia as an attempt to set the border in stone.

In a joint statement, EU, UN and OSCE mediators underlined the "prevailing relative calm" in the area, despite the construction of fences.

No comment was available from Russian negotiators who, as at most previous rounds, skipped a scheduled briefing with reporters.

© 2013 AFP

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