The EU as a Conflict Manager in Georgia in:

Anna Steiner

Enhanced Relations - Protracted Conflict(s)?, page 70 - 85

The EU's Non-Recognition and Engagement Policy (NREP) towards Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia

1. Edition 2019, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4304-2, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7236-3,

Series: Wissenschaftliche Beiträge aus dem Tectum Verlag: Politikwissenschaften, vol. 82

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
70 The EU as a Conflict Manager in Georgia „[F]rom a minor international actor to a key player in pan-European security” (Stewart 2011: 32), the role of the European Union as an international security actor has radically evolved since the post-Cold War era. Stewart, for instance, underlines the dominant role of conflict prevention and crisis management in the CSDP and the ENP (cf. ibidem). Besides that, the EU and its Member States are collectively providing more than 50% of all global development aid and have consolidated their stand as being the biggest donor of development aid around the world again, having reached €75,5 billion in 2016 (cf. European Commission 2017). Furthermore, EU civilian and military missions have contributed to conflict prevention and management. Currently, there are 17 EU missions and operations deployed around the world, including the EUMM in Georgia (cf. EEAS 2016b). Emergence of a Strategy – from Soft to Hard Security Measures The efforts of the EU to engage with Georgia’s separatist conflicts date back to the early 1990s. In the beginning, the focus was on humanitarian assistance through ECHO funding and food aid from DG Agriculture funds (cf. Wolff 2011: 149). In 1997, the EU began to also invest in rehabilitation programmes in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali (cf. ibidem). When after 1999 the relations between Georgia and the EU were put on a contractual basis through the PCA, the amount of funding was significantly increased (cf. ibidem). The Presidency of the Cologne European Council concluded optimistically that the entry into force of the PCAs in the three South Caucasus states will “facilitate regional cooperation and hence the quest for lasting solutions to persisting conflicts in the region” (Council of the European Union 1999: §93). However, the years following the Cold War have passed without a clear strategy on conflict prevention and crisis management (cf. Bosse 2011: 133). Actions carried out in the fields of humanitarian support, capacity building and economic cooperation were primarily led by events rather than a strategic policy (cf. ibidem: 134). The lack of a comprehensive approach made EU assistance rather ineffective given the ongoing conflicts (ibidem: 134; cf. also: International Crisis Group 2006). While the European Commission identified the need for conflict settlement to make financial contributions effective, Member States demanded to continue using the existing PCAs as a framework for the relations with Georgia (cf. Lynch 2006: 61). As mentioned above, the EU’s interest in the South Caucasus picked up by the time it became a neighbouring region and was finally integrated into the ENP in 2004. The ENP aims at spreading peace across the EU borders. It also marked the beginning of a more differentiated approach towards the South Caucasus 71 states, that had primarily been seen as one region before (cf. Wolff 2011: 150). Among them, Georgia can be described as the “test case” (Bosse 2011: 132) for the role and impact of the ENP on conflict prevention and crisis management. The extension of the ENP to the South Caucasus meant a shift towards integrating “hard” security issues (cf. ibidem: 134). Initially, the ENP’s paradigm had been “soft” security measures such as regional cooperation and development (cf. Bosse 2011: 135). The ENP also recognised the need to address the protracted conflicts so as to create a stable basis for pursuing cooperation, especially in the field of energy (cf. ibidem). Additional to the ENP, the ESS described violent conflicts around its borders as key problems for the EU, even though did not explicitly mention the South Caucasus (cf. ibidem: 135). The ENP Action Plans contained provisions related to CFSP and political cooperation and highlighted the settlement of conflicts with particular regard to the South Caucasus (cf. ibidem: 135). However, there were no clear provisions related to conflict resolution, so the “increased efforts” (EC 2004: 11) were kept vague (cf. Bosse 2011: 135). In 2003, the Council decided to “play a more active political role in the South Caucasus” and to “ensure clear lines of responsibility” (Council Joint Action 2003/496/CFSP). Therefore, the post of a Special Representative for the South Caucasus (EUSR) was created. The EUSR was tasked with coordinating the European Union’s external action in the region by assisting the countries in carrying out political and economic reforms, contributed to the return of refugees and IDPs, engage with national actors, encourage cooperation and enhance the EU’s effectiveness and visibility in the region (cf. ibidem: Art. 2). This was a step towards civilian crisis management (cf. Bosse 2011: 135). In July 2004, the first EU rule-of-law mission EUJUST THEMIS, launched within the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), was deployed in Georgia (cf. Council Joint Action 2004/523/CFSP of 28 June 2004). The aim of this expert mission was to support the post-revolutionary country in reforming the criminal justice sector and legal reforms – areas, in which Georgia has made remarkable progress, as shown above. While EUJUST was not a response to an actual crisis (despite post-revolutionary tensions), the mission was deployed within the CSDP framework “in order to raise the political profile of the EU” (Oproiu 2015: 33) and ensure its effectiveness (cf. ibidem). In the Action Plan, concluded in November 2006, the EU and Georgia committed to specific actions contributing to conflict settlement in Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region in Georgia under Priority Area 6 (EEAS 2006). However, Tbilisi was disenchanted by the EU’s lack of will to become more actively involved in conflict resolution, which even delayed the negotiations of the second Action Plan (cf. Bosse 2011: 136). During the negotiations, the Georgian 72 delegation had insisted there should be conflict resolution commitments by the EU in the text, including ESDP instruments (cf. ibidem). The EU proposed a soft approach towards conflict resolution that – criticised by Bosse (cf. ibidem) and the International Crisis Group (cf. 2006: 10-11) – concentrated on economic assistance and the support of existing UN and OSCE frameworks. Thus, Bosse (cf. 2011: 136) concludes that other than expected, the ENP did not immediately change the EU’s habitual ad hoc approach towards conflict resolution in Georgia into a more consistent strategy. Wolff (cf. 2011: 151) however, positively highlights the EU’s multilateral approach in the Action Plan, in which the Commission expresses its commitment to support the enhancement of OSCE and UN mandates. The enunciated intention to “[i]nclude the issue of territorial integrity of Georgia and settlement of Georgia’s internal conflicts in EU-Russia political dialogue meetings” (ibidem). Moreover, showing the principal understanding that Russia as a veto-player needs to be involved in discussions in order “for any conflict settlement to have a realistic prospect of sustainability” (Wolff 2011: 151-152). Yet, at the time, little attention was paid to the conflicts in high-level discussions between the Union and Russia (cf. Bosse 2011: 136). This was mainly because the Member States were divided on the question of EU-Russia relations, with the French government, in particular, opposing greater engagement (cf. ibidem). This was reflected, for example, in 2005 when the majority of Member States rejected a contribution to the OSCE Border Monitoring operation – an operation that finally could not be extended due to a Russian veto (cf. ibidem; cf. Lynch 2006: 55) and by the lack of EU responses to a number of incidents such as the Russian attack of a Georgian radar station in 2007 (cf. Bosse 2011: 136). The division between the Member States also limited the power of the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus (EUSR), as Member States were eager to keep tight control over him, but at the same time disagreed on how to define his mandate (cf. ibidem: 137). Into the bargain, the Commission tended to request information from the OSCE or UN rather than from the EUSR, since those institutions were perceived as being more influential (cf. International Crisis Group 2006: 137). Within the Commission’s DG external relations there was a lack of expertise on the South Caucasus since the staff working on the region was very small and constantly changing (cf. ibidem). The Action Plan for Georgia was developed by only a handful of officials (cf. ibidem). Furthermore, the EU’s financial assistance to Georgia – though increasing markedly after the Rose Revolution – was very low in comparison with that of the U.S., UN or OSCE (cf. International Crisis Group 2006: 5-6). The fact that the ENPI had been designed before the ENP was extended to the South Caucasus explains why it was not targeted at conflict resolution (cf. Bosse 2011: 137). With 73 regards to Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region, the main focus lay on humanitarian and rehabilitation aid for Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region, but not on promoting civil society and people-to-people contacts (cf. ibidem). Coordination with other Institutional Actors Developments in the EU’s international profile have been made alongside other European security organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations (UN). With regards to the conflicts in Georgia, the EU as leading negotiator of the Protocole d’Accord after the Georgian-Russian War 2008 decided to share the chairmanship of the mediation within the Geneva International Discussions (GID) both with the UN and the OSCE, since they already had extensive peace-building experience within the regions (cf. Devdariani/Giuashvili 2016: 384). Before the 2008 war, the EU was not a formal participant of any of the regions’ conflict resolution mechanisms (cf. International Crisis Group 2006: 10, footnote 110). Abkhazia negotiations were held within the framework of the “Geneva Peace Process”, chaired by the UN, with Russia as facilitator (cf. International Crisis Group 2006: 10). The OSCE and the Group of Friens of the UN Secretary General (including Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia) had observer status (cf. ibidem). The Georgian-South Ossetian conflict was negotiated in the Joint Control Commission, facilitated by the OSCE and including Georgian, South Ossetian and Russian representatives. The EU Commission took part as informal observer (cf. ibidem). The mandate of the EUSR for the South Caucasus regarding conflict resolution was limited to supporting UN and OSCE mechanisms (cf. Oproiu 2015: 12). Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe51 (OSCE, former: CSCE) has maintained its Mission in Georgia since 1992 (cf. Devdariani/Giuash- 51 The OSCE is an intergovernmental organization consisting of 57 participating states (including all EU Member States, Georgia and the Russian Federation), all enjoying equal status. Decisions are taken by consensus on a politically, but not legally binding basis. The OSCE’s approach to security is comprehensive and tackles politico-military, economic and environmental, and human aspects. Thus, it addresses a wide range of security-related concerns, including arms control, confidence- and security-building measures, human rights, national minorities, democratisation, policing strategies, counter-terrorism and economic and environmental activities. The main aim of the OSCE is to prevent disputes between and within participating states, which distinguishes it from the EU, that practices its foreign and security policy beyond its borders (cf. Stewart 2011: 41). 74 vili 2016: 384). The original mandate to promote negotiations between conflicting parties in Georgia aimed at a peaceful political settlement was expanded in 1994, especially with regard to the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, in which it was tasked “to facilitate the creation of a broader political framework, in which a lasting political settlement [in South Ossetia] can be achieved on the basis of CSCE principles and commitments” (OSCE n. d., Mandate; cf. Devdariani/Giuashvili 2016: 384). Furthermore, its monitoring, fact-finding and investigation contributed to the Joint Peacekeeping Forces’ operation (cf. ibidem). With regard to the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, the Mission was tasked with ensuring liaison with the United Nations operations in Abkhazia (cf. ibidem). Between 1999 and 2004, the Mission’s Border Monitoring Operation (BMO) was mandated to observe and report on movements across parts of the Georgian- Russian border (cf. OSCE n. d., Mandate). Initially, the BMO’s area of operation covered the border between Georgia and the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, but it was extended to the Ingush (from December 2001) and Dagestan (from December 2002) in the following years. The OSCE’s Mandate to Georgia expired as of 31 December 2008. Since the OSCE Members refused to accept Russia’s wish to move the Mission’s headquarter to Tskhinval/i after their recognition, Russia withdrew its consensus from an extension on 22 December 2008 (cf. ibidem). Despite the efforts of the OSCE Greek Chairmanship that initiated political consultations, Russia finally ended the OSCE’s mandate in Georgia on 30 June 2009 (cf. Devdariani/Giuashvili 2016: 385). As Devdariani and Giuashvili (ibidem) sum up, “The OSCE PC was thus blocked due to a decision by one of its participants to impose its own vision on the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, not shared by any other OSCE participating State”. Being limited to technical support to the OSCE team and OSCE field projects, the OSCE could maintain field presence through a “protracted process of ‘phasing out’” (ibidem). However, the inability to find a consensus on a statusneutral formula acceptable for both Russia and Georgia have hampered its aim to regain a political mandate for mediation after the 2008 hostilities (cf. ibidem: 385- 386). Due to its previous engagement but without a document related to the Geneva International Discussions stating clear objectives for its involvement, the OSCE is engaged in confidence-building and humanitarian efforts in South Ossetia/Tskhinvali52 (cf. ibidem: 386). United Nations The Secretary-General and Security Council of the United Nations have been involved in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict from the very beginning (cf. Hille 2010: 52 Descriptions of projects that were carried out by the OSCE can be found in Devdariani/Giuashvili 2016: 391-395. 75 152). In 1993, the UN Mission to Georgia (UNOMIG) was deployed, provided with the mandate to monitor the actions of the Commonwealth of Independent States’ Peacekeeping Force (CIFPKF) as well as to patrol the border area (cf. Fischer 2010a: 44-45; cf. Hille 2010: 153). Resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council asked the parties to refrain from hostilities and observed the 1993 ceasefire agreement, aiming at ultimate conflict resolution (cf. Hille 2010: 153). A special focus was laid on the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) (cf. ibidem). Regular negotiations were held within a Coordinating Council set up on 18 December 1997 in Sukhumi (cf. Hille 2010: 154). These negotiations, divided into Working Groups on non-resumption of hostilities and security problems (I), refugees and IDPs (II), and economic and social problems (III) involved the UN Special Envoy, the Russian Federation (as facilitator), the OSCE and the Group of Friends to the Secretary-General53 (cf. ibidem). Abkhazia’s declaration of independence on 12 October 1999 limited the scope of negotiations, (cf. ibidem: 156). Abkhazia’s claim for its right to self-determination was diametrically opposing Georgia’s demand for territorial integrity, that had also been supported by the UN Security Council from the very beginning of the negotiations (cf. ibidem: 156-158). After August 2008, the UN has shared mediations with the OSCE and EU within the Geneva International Discussions, since it was the EU who brokered the ceasefire agreement (cf. ibidem: 160; cf. resp. chapters below). Furthermore, as Russia is a member of the UN Security Council thus having veto power, the share of negotiations makes sense to combine energy and efforts (cf. ibidem: 161). As in the case of the OSCE mission to South Ossetia, Russia in June 2009 vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on the continuation of UNOMIG in Abkhazia (cf. Oproiu 2015: 34; Khintba 2010: 65). EU Support to Conflict Resolution after the 2008 War The outbreak of hostilities in August 2008 called for a direct response by the EU. In the very beginning, the Member States’ opinions on how to react varied widely. On the one side of the spectrum, the British Government along with the new Member States in Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltics called for major sanctions and a review of the relationship with Russia (cf. Bosse 2011: 138). At the same time, France, Germany and Italy opposed the imposition of tough sanctions on Russia, which they feared might lead to a further escalation of the conflict (cf. ibidem). Hence, the High Representative Javier Solana, the Commission and 53 The Group of Friends to the Secretary General consisted of the USA, Great Britain, France, Germany and the Russian Federation. 76 the French EU Presidency issued separate statements in reaction to the hostilities (cf. ibidem). Ceasefire Agreement Notwithstanding, the French Presidency of the EU, concurring with the Finnish OSCE Chairmanship, quickly managed to engineer a consensus among the Member States and to bundle the EU’s conflict management capabilities. Under Nicolas Sarkozy’s leadership, a six-point ceasefire agreement between Georgia and Russia was signed on 12 August 2008. According to Van Herpen (2016: 12-13), the success of Sarkozy can be explained by Russian efforts to build a strategic triangle with Germany and France to counteract US influence in Europe. While the Franco-Russian relationship had already “began to blossom” under French President Jacques Chirac, Putin also entertained good relations with Chirac’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy (cf. ibidem: 13). Sarkozy’s could build on that during the mediation, which ultimately led to a “personal relationship” (ibidem) between the two leaders. At the World Policy Conference in Evian on 8 October 2008, the French President even recognised “[...] that Russia may have felt neglected by Western countries [...] to the point that Russia may have believed that only a relationship of force would ensure that it was respected” (Sarkozy 2008; quoted from Kropatcheva 2012: 35). The initial success was set back by Russia’s announcement at the end of August to recognise the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (that was followed by Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru and only in 2018 by Syria). Nicolas Sarkozy entered a new round of negotiations with Moscow. An Extraordinary European Council meeting on 1 September in Brussels fully confirmed the ceasefire agreement (cf. Council of the European Union 2008a). The Presidency Conclusions called the Russian reaction following the outbreak of the conflict “disproportionate” and condemned Russia’s decision taken at the end of August to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (cf. ibidem). On September 8, an understanding between the EU and Moscow was reached on the implementation of the ceasefire agreement (the so-called “Sarkozy-Medvedev Plan”54). This plan set out the time frame of one month for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the disputed territories and provided ground for the deployment of EU monitors around Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region (cf. Bosse 2011: 139). 54 According to Expert C (see Paraphrase), Sarkozy politically could not manage to press Moscow further. Then-Prime Minister Putin has taken Sarkozy by surprise and intimidated him badly during the meeting in Moscow. Sarkozy then proceeded further communication with then- President Dmitri Medvedev. 77 However, the Russian interpretation of the ceasefire agreement and its implementation as laid down in the Medvedev-Sarkozy-Plan was “rather creative” (Bosse 2011: 141). According to the Russian viewpoint, the ceasefire agreement was technically no agreement between Russia and Georgia, since Sarkozy signed it with the two leaders independently (cf. Devdariani 2018). Besides that, Russia claims that there has been an error in the translation: While the Russian version contains a provision on ‘bezopasnost’ (security/safety) for Abkhazia and South-Ossetia, the French (original) and English versions of the text speak about security/safety in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (cf. 07.09.2008). Sticking with this alternative version, Russia only accepts military buffer zones on the territory of Georgia (from a Russian post-recognition perspective), but not on the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (cf. ibidem; cf. Devdariani 2017). This is also why the EU monitors were no longer allowed to enter the two entities after Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (cf. Bosse 2011: 140). The European Union Monitoring Mission to Georgia The European Union Monitoring Mission to Georgia (EUMM) of 200 observers was deployed on 1 October, quickly after the adoption of Joint Action 2008/736/CFSP at the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 15 September. The Joint Action also extended the EUSR’s role in relation to the EUMM. The EUMM was mandated to monitor the compliance of parties with the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008. When the EU High Representative Javier Solana visited the headquarters of the EUMM in Georgia one day prior to its deployment, he noted: “This has been the fastest deployment the EU has ever undertaken. EU Member States made a tremendous effort [...] to be here in this short period of time. The EU has shown its capacity to act with determination and speed” (Solana 2008: 1-2). Reacting quickly to the August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia has not only shown the EU’s capability in terms of decision-making and deployment but also ensured an international presence in the area (cf. Wolff 2011: 152). After both the OSCE and UN missions in Abkhazia and South-Ossetia had been closed due to Russian pressure, the EUMM became the only mandated international actor in Georgia (cf. ibidem; cf. Bosse 2011: 143). Until today, the EUMM cannot exactly fulfil its mandate because its area of work is limited up to the Administrative Boundary Lines (ABL). Devdariani (2018) perfectly describes the problem of the concurring dimensioning: “The EUMM finds itself monitoring what the EU and Georgia consider an administrative boundary and Russia views as a state border”. 78 Indisputably the EUMM still occupies an important role, since it constantly patrols the ABLs with the breakaway-region, operates a hotline and regularly carries out Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs) contributing to confidence-building (cf. EEAS 2017a: 6-7). The importance of progress in the Geneva International Discussion and of fully functional IPRMs was also underlined by the Association Council, that welcomed the contribution of the EUMM, that informs EU policymakers and the GID, “in preventing the escalation of tensions on the ground” (EEAS 2018b: 4). However, as there is no permanent international mediating field presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia since 2009, independent information from within the two regions is lacking (cf. Devdariani 2018). The European Union Special Representative for (the South Caucasus and) the Crisis in Georgia The Council also decided to appoint a separate EUSR for the crisis in Georgia (Council Joint Action 2008/736/CFSP) – alongside the already established EUSR for the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby (who invented the NREP). The appointment of Jacques Morel (Council Joint Action 2008/769/CFSP) as EUSR for the crisis in Georgia on 13 October 2008 was interpreted as “concession to the outgoing French EU presidency” (Wolff 2011: 153), but undermined Semneby’s role even though he as EUSR for the South Caucasus remained tasked with the political guidance to the EUMM (cf. ibidem). This complex structure was taken away and the posts were merged by Council Decision 2011/518/CFSP of 25 August 2011, appointing the French diplomat Philippe Lefort – former Ambassador to Georgia (2004-2007) and Russia (2007-2010) – the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia55. In November 2017, Toivo Klaar, an Estonian citizen and former Head of Division for Central Asia at the EEAS (2014-2017) and of the EU Monitoring Mission to Georgia (2013-2014), was appointed EUSR for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia. The Association Council also declared the appointment as “visible and substantial signs of the EU’s commitment” (cf. EEAS 2018b: 4). Klaar’s mandate is based on the Union’s policy objectives in accordance with the existing mechanisms, including the OSCE, to both prevent the eruption of new conflicts in the region and contribute to a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Georgia and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This shall be achieved by various means such as promoting the return of refugees and IDPs and supporting the implementation of their settlement in compliance with international law principles. 55 Peter Semneby’s mandate as European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus expired on 28 February 2011 and Pierre Morel’s mandate as European Union Special Representative for the crisis in Georgia expired on 31 August 2011 (cf. Council Decision 2011/518/CFSP). 79 The EUSR is the person that engages with the main actors in the region that are willing to cooperate on the Union’s behalf, thus making the Union more effective and visible in the region, and that encourages and supports further cooperation between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, and, as appropriate, their neighbouring countries (cf. EEAS 2016a: 3). This broad regional mandate still allows the EUSR and his staff to officially visit Abkhazia and South Ossetia and interact with the de facto authorities, which makes the post essential for keeping at least minimum contact to South Ossetia56 and building trust within the de facto states (cf. de Waal 2017). Thus, the EUSR has an important role in preparing the ground for the implementation of the engagement pillar of the NREP. Furthermore, the EUSR co-chairs the Geneva International Discussion. Crisis Management Bureaucracy The fast response to the 2008 war has inter alia been made possible due to a smooth crisis management bureaucracy (cf. Bosse 2011: 139-140). The Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) was set up within the Council Secretariat only in July of the same year (cf. Council of the European Union 2008). This new entity, comprising of 70 rule-of-law, financial, logistical and procurement experts, provided the Committee for Civilian Crisis Management (Civcom) with advice (cf. Bosse 2011: 139-140; cf. Cross 2010: 26) and managed to gather staff, vehicles and equipment from the Member States within only a few days (cf. Bosse 2011: 140). While the permanent presence of Member States in Brussels through the Civcom provide expertise to the Political and Security Committee (PSC) on civilian aspects of crisis management (cf. Council Decision 2000/354/CFSP), the EU Military Committee (EUMC) is the highest military body and gives advice and recommendations related to military aspects (cf. Council Decision 2001/79/CFSP). As Cross (2010: 8) points out, “Member States drive ESDP” through these two trans governmental platforms. Bosse (2011: 140) also remarks the willingness of the Member States to step up in the aftermath of the Georgian- Russian war, since “[w]ithout their immediate support, the crisis management bureaucracy could have done very little, regardless of its outstanding management capabilities”. The Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence (PESCO), set up in November 2017, aims at further integrating and strengthening defence cooperation within the EU. The Treaty-based (Art. 42 (6) and 46 TEU and Protocol 10) framework will deepen defence cooperation among those Member States 56 After the 2008 war, the European Commission’s room for manoeuvre in South Ossetia was “reduced to almost zero” (de Waal 2017). 80 – currently 2557 – who are capable and willing to do so. PESCO works both at Council level and at the project level, which means its effectiveness will be measured by assessing the projects developed. By signing PESCO, the signatories confirmed their willingness to increase the CSDP’s capacity to act and deepen the Union’s integration in the field of defence. The Georgian Vice Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, stated that Georgia welcomed the reinforced defence cooperation through PESCO and announced via Twitter on 15 December 2017 that Georgia “is ready to deepen partnership w[ith] EU in the security field for the [sic!] stronger Europe” (cf., 15 December 2017). The Geneva International Discussions The objectives of the Geneva International Discussions (GID) have been set out by the 12 August ceasefire agreement. According to the protocol, the GID is tasked to deal with the modalities of security and stability arrangements as well as with the situation of refugees and displaced persons. Without being specified further, the minimum objective extrapolated from other recent conflict dialogue frameworks would have been to finalise the ceasefire and propose consensual security mechanisms (cf. Devdariani/Giuashvili 2016: 386). However, the multilateral mediation forum lacks a common view on the objectives, the participants’ roles and even the conflict(s) being mediated. With regards to the objectives, Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states has made the full implementation of the ceasefire agreement impossible, even before the GID had convened for the first time (cf. Devdariani/Giuashvili 2016: 386). Russia interprets their military bases as being deployed based on bilateral agreements with either of the independent states, thus “new realities” would nullify Russia’s obligation to withdraw its forces as laid down in the 12 August 2008 agreement (cf. ibidem). When it comes to the roles within the GID, interpretations differ as well. While Georgia considers Russia its opponent as a party in the 2008 war and power in control over two Georgian regions, Russia claims to be a facilitator like the U.S., but in a conflict between Georgia and the independent states Abkhazia and South Ossetia (cf. ibidem). The EU does not interpret Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region as negotiating partners and carries out its actions in conflict resolution with the breakaway territories “to support Georgia’s efforts to overcome the consequences of internal conflicts” (cf. EEAS 2017a)58. 57 The common notification on the PESCO was signed by all Member States except Denmark, Malta and the United Kingdom on 13 November 2017. 58 In the factsheet on EU-Georgia relations published in November 2017, the EEAS states that „[t]he EU continues to support Georgia’s efforts to overcome the consequences of internal conflicts in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia dating back to the early 1990s, as well as to stabilise the situation following the outbreak of hostilities in August 81 The participants and mediators also answer the question of which conflict is being mediated differently. Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region consider the GID as a negotiation format for the conflicts between Georgia and the respective partially recognised state in its entirety, conflicts in which the 2008 hostilities would mark “just one significant escalation” (cf. Devdariani/Giuashvili 2016: 387). Georgia, however, sees the GID as a mediation process with Russia following the 2008 war between those two countries. The EU also focuses on mediating the Georgia-Russia conflict, while the UN is engaged primarily in Georgia- Abkhazia and the OSCE in Georgia-South Ossetia dynamics (cf. ibidem). The discord among the participants and observers hamper progress towards discussing larger goals such as the non-use-of-force commitment by Russia, consensual international security mechanisms or a solution for the internally displaced persons and refugees (cf. ibidem: 387). However, the GID is the only available format to discuss the Russian-Georgian conflict and the only gathering place in which live discussions between Tbilisi and the de-facto authorities in Tskhinval/i and Sukhum/i take place. At the same time, it is the only venue where both entities can voice their needs and be heard before the international community59 (cf. ibidem). Despite the lack of progress in finding a political solution during over 40 rounds, the GID has – through keeping a continual dialogue by focussing on smaller, more tangible goals – prevented a renewed escalation, which cannot be overestimated. Excursus: Other Mediation Platforms Mediation efforts are also undertaken in other organisations, such as the Harvard Project on Negotiation, the German Berghof Research Centre for Constructive Conflict Settlement, the Austrian Schlaining Process, as well as initiatives of the London based Institute for Strategic Studies (cf. Hill 2010: 161) or International Alert60, that also publishes expert analysis on conflict issues from Abkhaz, Georgian and South Ossetian perspectives. 2008” (EEAS 2017a: 7). While the EEAS emphasises Georgia’s efforts, it mentions Abkhazia and South Ossetia as Georgia’s breakaway regions, not as negotiation parties 59 For example, the necessity to take measures against the marble bug invasion that threatened agricultural crops was raised by the Abkhaz side at the 41st GID round within the framework of humanitarian issues (cf. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia 2017). The idea has been carried further by the Austrian Development Agency that started a project (cf. ADA, project number 8351-00/2017) on animal health and plant protection to counteract the pest, involving Abkhaz and Georgian farmers. 60 [16.06.2018]. 82 Obstacles to Conflict Resolution Besides the varying views on who the parties to the conflict are, which conflict is being mediated and the mediation objectives, as discussed above, Russia’s strong influence on the de facto states is a major impediment to conflict resolution. This fact was again stressed by the Association Council at its latest (5th) meeting on 5 February 2018, when it mentioned the so-called treaties on integration between Russia and the entities as a major concern (cf. EEAS 2018b: 5). In addition, the intensified militarisation is convicted as “gross violation of Georgia’s territorial integrity” (cf. ibidem). The EU calls on Russia to withdraw its military forces from Georgian territory and to let the EUMM fulfil its mandate, namely to provide access to the de facto independent territories (cf. ibidem). Besides that, Abkhazia has become even more isolated since two out of four crossing points on the Administrative Border Line (ABL) were closed in 2017, certainly aggravating locals’ lives (cf. ibidem). In both regions, human rights violations and discrimination of ethnic Georgians were found to be on the rise (cf. EEAS 2018b: 5). The Role of Financial Engagement With regards to financing, the EU’s initial response to the 2008 Georgia-Russia War demonstrated its will to quickly invest in civil protection, rehabilitation and humanitarian and food aid (cf. Wolff 2011: 152). ECHO funds allocated €8 million in 200861 and €4 million in 2009 to humanitarian and food aid in Georgia (cf. European Commission 2010: 54; 112). Additionally, €2 million was provided in 2009 for disaster prevention for the South Caucasus through DIPECHO – a regional programme covering Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia (cf. ibidem: 55). In total, €18 million was spent on Georgia from 2005-2009 (cf. ibidem). The Instrument for Stability (IfS) financed €15 million in 2008 (cf. European Commission 2009: 4) and €14 million in 2009 to support the more than 30,000 IDPs through confidence-building, political reform, socio-economic integration of displaced people, and assistance in Abkhazia (cf. ibidem; cf. European Commission 2010: 55). The ENPI provided €61,5 million to support IDPs in Georgia in 2008 by providing housing solutions and infrastructure and supporting integration and development in the host areas, and another €43,5 million in 2009 (cf. European Commission 2010: 56). 61 Which is four times the amount of the allocation in 2005, 2006 and 2007 (€2 million per year); in 2003 it had allocated €4 million. While the aid to Georgia was increased in 2008, the allocation to Chechnya was cut down significantly (cf. European Commission 2010: 112). 83 The European Commission provided €9 million for Georgia as a response to the crisis and warranted €500 million for the period 2008-10 at a Donor’s Conference for Georgia co-chaired by the World Bank on 22 October 2008 (cf. Wolff 2011: 152). Contributions (e.g. shelter, medicines, food and clothing) of Member States directed to Georgia were facilitated through the Community Civil Protection Mechanism (cf. ibidem). The EUMM was equipped with €37 million for its first year (cf. Wolff 2011: 152). While the immediate EU response to the crisis in Georgia was quick and promising, this “initial flurry of activity” (Wolff 2011: 152) has (partly) lost its momentum afterwards. Humanitarian assistance and IDP support, in particular, have remained successful – but the political leverage on conflict resolution declined (cf. ibidem: 152-153). While after Russian recognition and the EU’s subsequent adoption of the NREP the “window for opportunity” (cf. Fischer 2010b: 5) was used in Abkhazia as projects kept going, the European Commission’s room for manoeuvre in South Ossetia “was reduced to almost zero” (ibidem), which means the engagement pillar of the NREP could not be implemented there (cf. Fischer 2010b: 5). In the first three years following the war, projects in Abkhazia were funded through the Instrument for Stability and EIDHR (cf. Fischer 2010b: 5). Since those instruments are not tied to the consent of a partner government, the then restrictive approach of the Georgian government could be circumvented (cf. ibidem). In May 2010, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has started the Confidence Building Early Response Mechanism (COBERM) that is financed by the European Commission and implemented by UNDP (cf. ibidem). Fischer (cf. 2010a: 51) describes, that – especially in the beginning of the EU’s increased engagement – the new Abkhaz leadership was eager to establish contacts with the EU that had become the biggest donor of external assistance to Abkhazia. However, the “quick rapprochement between Georgia and the EU was observed with great suspicion” (ibidem: 51). Additional to that, the fact that EU aid went through Tbilisi and was aimed at (re)establishing ties with Georgia has been met with disapproval (cf. ibidem: 51-52). Thus, “[t]he EU’s economic assistance could not compensate for the political and symbolic deficiencies of EU policy as seen from an Abkhaz perspective” (Fischer 2010a: 52). Fischer (cf. ibidem: 52) sums up that this perception alongside the polarization of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict and increasing tensions between Russia and the EU undermined the confidence and subsequently the EU’s potential for mediation in this initial phase of NREP implementation. 84 Current EU Programmes in Abkhazia In its fact sheet on EU-Georgia relations, the EEAS (cf. 2017a: 7) clearly expresses that engagement with the breakaway regions is carried out “in support of longterm conflict resolution” (ibidem), thus directly labelling the NREP a part of the EU’s conflict resolution strategy towards Abkhazia and (theoretically) South Ossetia. The ENI support to the breakaway regions is part of the overall EU engagement policy and follows a comprehensive approach. While the ENI is not a conflict-geared quick reaction initiative, it is catering for conflict-affected populations by either: streamlining such concerns into its overall support to Georgia: e.g. on IDPs, who are “positively discriminated” in several ENI programmes; or providing separate, adapted strands of action e.g. specific components for Abkhazia within the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development Phase II and Phase III (ENPARD II and III), Civil Society Facility and the future programme on Vocational Education and Training (VET). The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP)62 IV amounts to €7.5 million and aims at “increasing the efficiency and coherence of the Union’s actions in the areas of crisis response, conflict prevention, peace-building and crisis preparedness, and in addressing global and trans-regional threats” (Art. 1 (1), Regulation No 230/2014). The IcSP programmes encourage people-to-people contacts, direct channels between societies and stakeholders on both sides and support opportunities developed by these dialogues. Currently, the following projects are funded under IcSP, both multi-country projects managed by the European Union Delegation in Georgia63: COBERM III (Confidence Building Early Response Mechanism) focuses on societal confidence-building measures, ranging from grass-roots initiatives and people-to-people contacts to activities related to the political opening in the framework of the Geneva International Discussions (proposed by the EUSR office). Another project, “Mother-tongue based multi-lingual education in Abkhazia” responds to the highly sensitive issue of language education and language of instruction in the breakaway region of Abkhazia. The project aims at fostering quality education in Abkhaz, Georgian and Armenian mother tongues for the respective linguistic groups, alongside other languages necessary for social and economic inclusion – thus responding not only to a political challenge but a serious child rights issue, given the deteriorating education situation in Abkhazia which is in desperate need of modernisation. 62 IcSP was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on 11 March 2014 (Regulation No 230/2014) and succeeds the Instrument for Stability (IfS) that was proposed by the Commission in September 2004 and created by the Council and Parliament on 15 November 2006 (Regulation No 1717/2006). 63 [16.06.2018]. 85 Under the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development II (ENPARD II), three complementary contracts (with UNDP – €1 million, Action Contre la Faim (ACF) – €1.5 million and Danish Regional Council (DRC) – €1.5 million) contribute to improving living conditions and access to basic services in rural areas of Abkhazia while promoting community participation in local development processes. A new Delegation Agreement (€4 million) was signed in late December 2017 with UNDP under ENPARD III. UNDP will cooperate with other relevant implementers in Abkhazia (DRC, ACF and FAO) on extending the rural development actions initiated under ENPARD II in both rural development and pest management. Pest management is gaining particular importance, given the dramatic harvest losses due to numerous plant pests in 2017, which have added to the vulnerability of the already impoverished population. The new programme (under Annual Action Programme 2017) on Skills Development and Matching for Labour Market Needs will further contribute to skills development, anticipation and matching, as well as improve entrepreneurial skills. Specific support will be provided to improve the management and delivery of VET and enhance employment and training opportunities of vulnerable groups in Abkhazia (€3 million). The “Joint EU-UNDP Civil Society Support Programme” (€1.4 million) strives to address the key problems of the civil society in Abkhazia; it is expected to promote an inclusive, competent, and responsive civil society that more effectively serves the needs of all of Abkhazia, and South Ossetia when possible (launched on 1 January 2017). Within the last 1,5-2 years, the focus of EU engagement has shifted64. Instead of focussing on confidence building, most recent projects target humanitarian issues as their main objective. The sole confidence building focus proved to be less well received among the Abkhaz, who perceived these projects as a precursor to reunification with Georgia forced by the EU. While concrete results have not materialised yet, the focus on humanitarian issues has the chance to firstly create trust in an EU that takes their concerns seriously, and secondly (applicable to some projects) to build confidence between Georgians and Abkhaz through people-topeople contacts on a more subliminal level – by working on common goals. 64 This paragraph is based on information given by a EU Commission representative on 6 March 2018.

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Protracted conflicts with and over de facto independent entities such as the Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region in Georgia endanger the region’s sustainable and peaceful development. Anna Steiner examines Georgia’s breakaway regions in the context of EU policies – a highly topical, yet unresolved matter.

Relations between Georgia and the EU have significantly deepened within the last ten years (Association Agreement, DCFTA, Visa Liberalisation). The present book closes a scientific gap by reviewing the NREP in the light of these developments. Using a profound literature basis and expert interviews, the authorsheds light on EU-Russian relations, the politico-normative framework of EU-Georgian relations, neighbourhood relations and applicable governance concepts. Realistic proposals for a future EU approach make this book a guideline for diplomatic engage­ment.