EUMM Georgia marks 14th anniversary in country as only foreign mission monitoring Russian occupation

EUMM Georgia was deployed in September 2008 following an EU-mediated ceasefire that ended the war between Russia and Georgia in August of that year. Photo: EUMM Georgia press office, 15 Sep 2022 - 17:42, Tbilisi,Georgia

The European Union Monitoring Mission, the only foreign mission in Georgia observing activities adjacent to the Russian-occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia), celebrated the 14th anniversary of its presence in the country on Thursday. 

Speaking at a press briefing on the anniversary, EUMM mission head Marek Szczygieł said the mission had contributed to stability in Georgia and the wider region over the past 14 years.

Based on the mission’s four lines of operation with regards to the occupation - stabilisation, normalisation, confidence-building and informing EU policy - the European Union official emphasised key developments and challenges in the mission’s work in his comments. 

Video by EUMM Georgia: "it highlights who we are, what we do, but especially why we are doing it. Our main objective remains unchanged: to contribute to stability in Georgia and the wider region".

Pointing to the stabilisation efforts, Szczygieł said currently the mission was conducting around 15 patrols a day, or around 100 patrols a week, along the occupation lines.

Since 1 October 2008, EUMM has conducted 82,021 patrols. Through our round-the-clock monitoring presence on the ground, especially along the administrative boundary lines, we make sure that there is no return to hostilities. It has a preventative effect”, said the mission head. 

In normalisation activities, Szczygieł stressed the de facto authorities’ frequent closure of crossing points between the occupied regions and the rest of Georgia, restrictions on local populations’ freedom of movement, banning of ethnic Georgians’ right to education in their mother tongue, installation of illegal barriers and abduction of individuals for “illegally crossing the border”, were “very challenging”. 

Currently four Georgian citizens are detained in Tskhinvali, two in Sokhumi [the Abkhazian regional capital]. Through the available platforms our mission constantly advocates for a quick release of those prisoners and that a humanitarian approach is applied”, said the official while welcoming the recent opening of several crossing points after years of closure. 

In remarks about confidence-building, Szczygiel said the 108th meeting of the Ergneti Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism - a platform facilitating meetings between de facto authorities and Georgian officials - would take place on September 23, adding that over the years, the meetings had resulted in “numerous practical achievements”, ranging from the release of detainees to other issues important to local populations.