European Union observers are preparing for imminent deployment to monitor the Russian troop pullout from inside Georgia.
The EU mission’s mandate remains unclear but its civilian chief, Hans Jorghaber, at a meeting in the Georgian capital, said it was mostly ready to go: “The bulk of the staff will arrive this week… tomorrow and the two days after tomorrow, and then another wave in the following days. The first ones will be deployed to the field offices in Gori, Zugdidi, Poti and one field officer in Tbilisi as well. So that everything will be in place on September 30 and we will have met our obligation to have at least 200 monitors in the field on 1 October.”
Moscow has said it will not let the EU observers into South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Last week, negotiations at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to deploy up to 100 monitors fell through, with only 20 in place because Russia denied them access to South Ossetia. The deadline for Russian withdrawal from Georgian territory outside the Moscow-backed separatist regions is October 10.