The First Team of EU Observers Arrives in Georgia.
28 EU observers arrived to Georgia from Italy on September 23, at 4 p.m. Half an hour after the other plane carrying technical equipment will land in the Tbilisi Airport, French Embassy in Georgia said in a statement.
By October 1, the EU observers will be deployed in Georgia in line with the agreement brokered by the French President. Under the agreement, after the EU's monitoring mission are in place outside the areas of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russian troops will have to withdraw within ten days.
Hansjoerg Haber, head of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia, has already met with Georgia's top officials, including Georgia's Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze, on September 22. According to Gurgenidze, who welcomed the arrival of the head of the mission, the mission will start operating on October 1.
The mission, along with its headquarters in Tbilisi, will also have field offices. Initially the duration of the mission will be twelve months and a budget of the mission is 31 million Euro.
Tbilisi officials hope to see them also in the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, Moscow has already refused to allow the observers to enter Abkhazia and South Ossetia, while increasing its current number of 7,600 troops there.
The talks over sending additional OSCE observers also broke down last week. Russia is against allowing the extra OSCE observers to the breakaway regions, which has led to a cessation of the negotiations.
Meanwhile, the situation in the areas adjacent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia escalated when three Georgian policemen were killed and several injured.
On September 22, Georgian forces shot down a Russian unmanned aerial vehicle, which according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia was flying over the villages of Khurvaleti and Tsitelubani near the breakaway region of South Ossetia.
"On early in the morning on September 22nd employees of Baku-Supsa Magistrate Protection sub-division of Special Tasks Main Division of the Interior Ministry, while conducting an inspection, noticed a Russian unpiloted reconnaissance drone in the territory of the village of Khurvaleti and Tsitelubani," said the Ministry. "The unmanned aerial vehicle was presumably conducting photo shooting of Baku-Supsa oil pipeline."
Shota Utiashvili, the head of the Informational-Analytical Department of the Ministry, said that the drone was equipped with photo cameras and a GPS system and the reconnaissance of Baku-Supsa oil pipeline had been targeted.
The Russian side denied the accusations saying that there were no flights of a Russian drone over the area.
23 September Tue 2008, 19:53:34