EU-sponsored inquiry mission into the August war, which currently visits Tbilisi, apart of its chairperson, Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini and her two deputies consists of five military and legal experts.
Gen. Gilles Galet from France; Gen. Christophe Keckeis, the Chief of the Swiss Armed Forces in 2004-2007; Otto Luchterhandt from Germany, who is a professor at Hamburg University’s Institute for East European Law; Anne Peters also from Germany – she is a professor of Public International Law at the University of Basel.
The group also includes Col. Christopher Langton, who has served in the British Army for 32 years. He has an experience of working in Georgia in the capacity of Deputy Chief of UN Observer Mission (UNOMIG).
In August, 2008 Col. Langton wrote an article on the Georgia-Russia war under the headline “Georgia’s dream is shattered, but it only has itself to blame” in which he said: “None of the actors in this drama can claim to be right. Georgia acted disproportionately and unnecessarily and is now worse off than it was before... Russia invaded the territory of a sovereign state and used disproportionate and sometimes indiscriminate force – particularly air power.”
After the August war Prof. Luchterhandt wrote about the matter in the context of international law. His conclusions were used by the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe’s (PACE) Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights last October when the PACE was preparing a resolution on the consequences of the Russia-Georgia war. The German professor wrote that Georgia violated international humanitarian law when it used disproportionate force and attacked Tskhinvali. Prof. Luchterhandt also said that although Russia had violated Georgia’s sovereignty over South Ossetia number of times in the past, Moscow could justify its response under the international law. He said that Georgia’s armed attack on the headquarters of the peacekeeping forces in Tskhinvali amounted attack on Russia itself under the international law. He also suggested that Russia could justify occupation of areas adjacent to South Ossetia on Georgia proper under the international law, as well as aerial attacks on military installations throughout Georgia; but not the occupation of western part of Georgia, which, he said, was definitely a violation of the international law.
Tagliavini’s deputies are Uwe Schramm, a former German ambassador in Tbilisi and Marian Staszewski, a Polish diplomat with an experience of working in Georgia while serving in UNOMIG.
The group held series of meeting in Tbilisi on February 9, including with Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, and State Minister for Reintegration, Temur Iakobashvili.
“We have received a first version of list of questions, which the commission has at this initial stage. We had our opinion what issues should be added to these questions and we have reiterated our full readiness for cooperation,” Temur Iakobashvili told journalists after the meeting. “We have nothing to hide; we believe in our truth.”
He also said that the mission planned to visit breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia as well.