EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) said the Georgian, Abkhaz and Russian sides would address recent tensions involving maritime dispute at a meeting in frames of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) planned for September 8 in Gali.
“EUMM is concerned about recent statements from representatives of the Georgian government, the Russian Armed Forces and the Abkhaz de facto authorities on the possible seizure of and or attacks on vessels in the Black Sea,” the mission said in a statement on September 2.
Four cargo ships en-route to, or from Abkhazia were seized this year by the Georgian coast guard on the grounds of violating of Georgia’s law on occupied territories, which bans economic activities in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia without Georgia’s consent.
Abkhaz leader, Sergey Bagapsh, said on September 2, that he had ordered the Abkhaz navy “to destroy” the Georgian coast guard vessels, which would violate Abkhazia’s “territorial waters.”
Deputy head of Russian Federal Security Service border guard department, Yevgeny Inchin, said on August 28 that a unit of the Russian border guards in Abkhazia also includes coast guard boats, “which will solve these issues, meaning providing security for [ships]” bound to Abkhazia.
The Georgian officials indicated that Tbilisi would continue preventing unauthorized economic activities in the occupied territories.
EUMM said that the statements by the Georgian, Russian and Abkhaz officials “reflect the conflicting legal positions on the territorial integrity of Georgia.”
“While on this matter the EU position is well known and remains unchanged,” the statement reads referring to EU’s support to Georgia’s territorial integrity, “EUMM urges all sides concerned to refrain from words and actions that could cause an increase in tension and a deterioration of the situation.”
“At the EUMM’s request the question has been included on the agenda of the forthcoming IPRM meeting in GALI on September 8. EUMM considers IPRM the appropriate forum to tackle this issue.