The EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) officially started patrols on October 1. The first patrols, each consisting of two vehicles, have already started patrolling in Samegrelo and Shida Kartli regions.
Local and international media reported that the EU monitors have entered the buffer zone around breakaway South Ossetia, despite a Russian official saying on September 30 that EU monitors would not have immediate access to the so-called “security zone” inside Georgia.
Vitaly Manushko, a Russian peacekeeper spokesman, stressed the necessity for a memorandum between the Russian and Georgian sides and the European Union to clearly define the EUMM mandate, as well as the strength of Georgian police, who will enter the Georgian villages currently occupied by Russian forces after the latter withdraw.
The EUMM, comprising unarmed monitors, aims to stabilize the situation and ensure compliance by Georgia and Russia with an EU-brokered peace plan.
The EUMM will work in close coordination with the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and the OSCE Mission in Georgia.
Over 200 monitors from 22 EU members-states will conduct permanent patrols on the ground. The total international mission personnel, including HQ staff, will be 352.
The HQ is in Tbilisi, with regional field offices in Tbilisi/Bazaleti (96 monitors), Gori (70 monitors), Poti (30 monitors) and Zugdidi (70 monitors).
The mission has a budget of Euro 35 million and is expected to remain for at least one year.