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Shortly after the end of open hostilities in Georgia, the EU established its Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Georgia in 2008 to help stabilising the situation and preventing further conflict. At the same time and very importantly the objective is to facilitate the resumption of a safe and normal life for the local communities living in the conflict zones, i.e. on both sides of the Administrative Boundary Lines with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Everyone agrees that "conflict prevention" is of crucial importance while it may sound elusive in the ears of many. However, the EU Mission in Georgia has developed a very practical and effective approach. Since 2009, the Mission has successfully used a Hotline that greatly helps communication between the conflict parties on the ground thus avoiding the building-up of new tension. Since the first incoming call in May 2009, the Hotline has been activated over 6,000 times.
The Hotline operates 24/7, 365 days a year, supporting timely communication on different conflict related issues, such as detentions, medical crossings, access to agricultural land, installation of fences, barbed wire and ‘border’ signs along the Administrative Boundary Lines with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The Mission has two Hotline holders, who liaise with their counterparts via mobile phone, Skype, at technical meetings or in discussions in the margins of the monthly Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meetings in Gali and Ergneti. Their counterparts are representatives of the Georgian law enforcement agencies, Russian Federation border guard personnel and representatives of the de facto authorities from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The EUMM Hotline holders are the first point of contact whenever and wherever an incident occurs. Their job requires 24-hour availability, commitment, patience and empathy to ensure the effective use of this mechanism and promote the resolution of evolving issues in a timely manner.
Over the years, The Hotline has proven itself an effective tool in defusing tensions. It is recognised as a successful instrument, not only by all the parties to the conflict, but also by the media and people living along the two Administrative Boundary Lines.
Please see the reportage by the Georgian Public Broadcaster on the Hotline and the added-value it brings to the people on the ground.