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EU observers begin danger-laden Georgia mission

EU observers begin danger-laden Georgia mission
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The EU’s observers in Georgia begin their mission on Wednesday, and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has been visiting them to assure them of his full backing.

Much has still to be resolved as to their mandate, with Russia still refusing to grant them access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, or the seven kilometre-deep “security zone” south of South Ossetia in Georgian territory.

Solana met Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and says he is “optimistic” the mission will be successful, and will see a full Russian withdrawal with all parties co-operating.

The force is of over 350 unarmed observers, in armoured vehicles, from 22 EU member states. They will have to monitor the movements of around 800 Russian soldiers holding some 18 positions, and cover some rough country.

Since fighting a five-day war in August over South Ossetia, Georgia has seen both it and Abkhazia formalise their 1990’s breakaways and declare independence. Russia has recognised them, and will henceforth station nearly 8000 troops in them.

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