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Tbilisi, Moscow Accept Ceasefire Plan
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 13 Aug.'08 / 03:27

 Initial draft revised;
 EU FMs to discuss the plan;
 Resolution will be drafted for UNSC;
 Russian peacekeepers to remain;
• Internationalization possible later;

President Saakashvili said he had accepted EU-brokered principles on ceasefire plan, endorsed earlier on August 12 by Russia.

Speaking at a joint news conference after midnight with President Saakashvili after talks in Tbilisi, French President Nicola Sarkozy said that he had long and extensive discussions with the Georgian leader over the text of the agreement.

He said that some amendments have been made into the initial text of the agreement that was first unveiled in Moscow after the French President met with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev earlier on August 12.

Sarkozy, whose country holds the EU presidency, also said that because of the Georgian side’s insistence to make some amendments, he had to get in touch with President Medvedev twice during the talks and to agree those amendments with the Russian side.

The text, which is not signed by the sides, represents a political document of major principles outlining terms of ceasefire.

Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, is expected to present the agreed text to the EU foreign ministers at the meeting on August 13 and then a resolution will be drafted presented to the UN Security Council for approval, the French President said.

Most of the principles of the agreement seem to remain unchanged from its initial draft agreed in Moscow.

But the Georgian side insisted to remove from the document a provision calling for launching “international discussions on the status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and ways of providing their stable security.”

President Saakashvili said that this provision had been removed, because of its ambiguity, leaving room for different interpretations, including the possibility to question the Georgia’s territorial integrity.

“We do not want to leave any doubt about [about the matter] - and I think President Sarkozy agrees with that; the territorial integrity of Georgia can never be put under doubt under any kind of international process. This is out of question,” Saakashvili said.

The first principle is non-use of forces and that applies, the French President said, “to all the parties – Ossetians, Abkhaz, Russia, Georgia.”
 
He said that the second principle was to cease hostilities. “At this point this is provisional, but the intent is to make it permanent,” Sarkozy said.

Free access to humanitarian aid and addressing the needs of displaced persons is the third point of the agreement. “Mr. Kouchner will be overlooking this,” Sarkozy said.

Under the fourth point the Georgian side undertakes commitment to return its forces to their original positions. And the Russian side will also pull its troops from the region.

But it only applies to those additional forces which Russia deployed in the region after the launch of hostilities in South Ossetia. Russian peacekeepers, which are stationed in the region for over a decade already, will remain there at least for now.

The fifth point of the agreement reads that the Russian peacekeeping forces “take additional security measures before creation of international mechanisms.”

President Saakashvili said that this provision meant undertaking of a commitment by all the sides, including by the western powers, that the peacekeeping operation in the region will be internationalized.

“Although there should be temporary arrangements for now, but later it should be replaced by international process with participation of EU, UN,” Saakashvili said. “What we have clearly obtained at this stage is cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of the occupational forces. We have temporary arrangement with the [Russian] peacekeepers – fine; but then there should be internationalization of the process and we have the commitment of all sides.”

“Of course this is a political document, but general principles are there. We need legal details; we need Security Council resolution and we need more presence international observers on the ground and more internationalization of the entire process.”

Giorgi Baramidze, the Georgian state minister for Euro-Atlantic integration issues, said that the document did not contain any specific timeframes. “It calls for ‘an immediate’ halt of hostilities and disengagement of forces,” he told Civil.Ge.

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