European Union Office in Kosovo 
European Union Special Representative in Kosovo

Trust building measures by the EU Monitoring Mission Georgia: a success story

07/10/2019 - 12:37
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The EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) is the only permanent international presence on the ground monitoring the situation between the two breakaway regions of Georgia, namely Abkhazia and South Ossetia. An open dialogue that takes place at meetings of the IPRM and via an EUMM-managed Hotline provides opportunities to bridge divides.

IPRM meeting about to commence in Ergneti recently

The EUMM and OSCE act as ‘honest brokers’

The Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meetings were established in 2009.  The Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meetings co-chaired by the EU Monitoring Mission Georgia and the OSCE benefit those living close to the Administrative Boundary Lines. Two formats exist – one for Abkhazia, held in the town of Gali, and one for the South Ossetian theatre held in no-man’s land near the village of Ergneti and meetings have typically taken place on a monthly basis.

The meetings are intended to provide an opportunity for all parties to come together and discuss the security and humanitarian challenges faced by the local population living along the Administrative Boundary Lines (ABL). It is here that all parties try to cooperate and resolve issues. Despite diverging political perspectives, all participants actively contribute to discussions ensuring the continued relevance of the IPRM format.

Some might argue that the term ‘success’ is overly positive and admittedly, the parties cannot always reach agreement. However, the dialogue has a distinct value, as those persons responsible for security on either side of the ABL have a chance to meet and discuss important matters, irrespective of their strong political differences.

Seeking tangible benefits for local residents

However, when they can agree, there are tangible benefits for the ordinary people living at or near the Administrative Boundary Lines. At a recent meeting of the Ergneti IPRM for South Ossetia issues such as the ongoing detention of civilians, advance warning of explosions that can be heard in local communities and ‘borderisation’ (erection of obstacles and barriers along the Administrative Boundary Line), were openly addressed. One example of how these conversations can lead to positive outcomes is the agreement reached for the clearing of irrigation canals on both sides of the Administrative Boundary Line. This benefits communities on both sides that need irrigation water for agriculture. This has been of great benefit to the local population on both sides of the Administrative Boundary Line, the majority of whom rely on agriculture to make a living.

EUMM presence at Enguri Bridge monitoring the arrival of a patient from Abkhazia for transportation in a Georgian ambulance to a hospital in Zugdidi.
EUMM presence at Enguri Bridge monitoring the arrival of a patient from Abkhazia for transportation in a Georgian ambulance to a hospital in Zugdidi.

EUMM managed Hotline saves lives

An adjunct of the IPRM is the Hotline, which is managed by the EUMM. This instrument is used daily and has proven its worth in providing all sides the opportunity to communicate with one another, 24/7. The number of Hotline activations has increased exponentially from 112 in 2011 to 1,648 in 2018. Although meetings of the IPRM for Abkhazia are suspended at present, dialogue continues through the Hotline, and this has literally saved lives.

Very recently, a young woman who is resident in the breakaway territory of Abkhazia, suffered serious burns and needed emergency transportation to the specialised burns unit at Zugdidi hospital, which is on the territory controlled by the central government of Georgia. The Abkhaz Hotline holder asked for her urgent transfer for life-saving medical intervention. Through the Hotline, a humanitarian and timely response to this tragic case was achieved, and the woman was able to receive the medical care she so desperately needed.

The open dialogue that takes place at meetings of the IPRM and via the EUMM-managed Hotline provides opportunities to seek common ground and bridge divides. For this reason, and the tangible results that can be achieved, both are a success.

For more information on the activities of the EU Monitoring Mission please see here.