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New Agreement in Force
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Sep.'08 / 21:31

• Russian troops will leave areas outside Abkhazia, S.Ossetia within a month;
• At least 200 EU monitors will be deployed in those areas;
 OSCE monitors will be able to return to Tskhinvali;
• UN observers will remain in Abkhazia;
• Int. discussions to start on October 15;
• Saakashvili has pledged not to use force;

The French and Russian presidents agreed after four hours of talks in Moscow on September 8 that Russia would pull out its troops from Georgian territories outside Abkhazia and South Ossetia within a month.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, said at a joint news conference with his French counterpart that “additional measures [had been agreed] to implement the August 12, 2008” six-point ceasefire plan.

He read out the agreed text at the joint news conference.

“The withdrawal of all Russian peacekeeping forces from five checkpoints on a line from Poti to Senaki within a maximum of seven days, assuming that legally binding documents guaranteeing the non-use of force against Abkhazia are signed on September 8, 2008.”

“The full withdrawal of Russian peacekeeping forces from the zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia to pre-conflict lines. This process of withdrawal will be carried out within 10 days after the international mechanism is in place, no later than October 1, 2008 in the zones, involving no less than 200 EU observers, assuming there are legally binding documents guaranteeing the non-use of forces against Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”

Here Medvedev noted that the Russian side had “already received such documents.” President Sarkozy also said during the press conference that he had handed over to the Russian president a letter from President Saakashvili in which Georgia undertook a commitment not to use force.

Other provisions of the agreement, as read out by Medvedev at the news conference, are:

“UN monitors in Georgia will continue to carry out their mandate in the area of their responsibility in accordance with the number and scheme of dislocation, as it was before August 7, 2008 without prejudice to possible corrections in future through a decision of the UN Security Council.”

UN observers had been monitoring the 1994 Moscow ceasefire agreement signed by the Abkhaz and Georgian sides in the Abkhaz conflict zone, including in Kodori Gorge. The agreement, however, has been annulled by Tbilisi, but the September 8 agreement creates guarantees that the UN Observer Mission in Georgia will continue its usual operations on both sides of the Abkhaz administrative border.

In respect of OSCE monitors, the agreement reads:

“The OSCE monitors will continue to carry out their mandate in the area of their responsibility in accordance with the number and scheme of dislocation, as it was before August 7, 2008  without prejudice to possible corrections in future through a decision of the OSCE Permanent Council.”

It means that unarmed OSCE monitors will be able to return to their office in Tskhinvali and continue monitoring the 15-km radius around Tskhinvali, as they did before hostilities erupted. 

The September 8 agreement also reads:
 
“It is necessary to accelerate preparations for the deployment of additional monitors in the zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia to a level high enough to replace Russian peacekeeping forces before October 1, 2008; in effect, at least 200 monitors from the European Union.”

“The European Union, as a guarantor of the principle of the non-use of force, is actively working on the deployment of an observation mission in addition to the already existing observation mechanisms.”

“International discussions as envisaged in point six of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan signed on August 12, 2008, will begin on October 15, 2008, in Geneva.”

Medvedev said that preparatory work for these discussions would begin in September.

He specified that according to the agreement these international discussions would be related to the following issues:

 Stability and security in the region;
 Return of refugees based on the internationally recognized principles and practice of post-conflict settlement;
 Other issues for discussion should be mutually agreed between the sides.
  
“The agreement comes into force immediately, bearing that Russia has received guarantees from the EU, from France as the presidency of European Union, about the non-use of force by the Georgian side,” Medvedev said.

During the press conference, Medvedev also made it clear that Russia’s decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s independence was “final and irreversible.”

“I hope that the decision that was taken will be understood by more countries and other countries will also follow that example, countries which respect human rights and democratic aspirations of other peoples. I hope the number of those countries will grow,” Medvedev said.

He also added that there already was an understanding that the dialogue with Tskhinvali and Sokhumi was only possible as “with entities of the international law.”

Sarkozy said at the news conference that the major disagreement remains about the Russia’s unilateral decision to recognize the two breakaway regions.

“Not everything has been resolved today, but what has been agreed today is considerable and significant,” Sarkozy said.

“Will of the EU is to protect interests of peace,” he added.

After talks in Moscow, Sarkozy, accompanied by President of European Commission José Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, left for Tbilisi to hold talks with President Saakashvili.

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