Berli – The European Union on Tuesday praised the 10th anniversary of an EU-brokered truce between Russia and Georgia following a bloody conflict over Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia.
However, the EU High Representative called the continuing Russian military presence in South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, a “violation of international law” and the 2008 truce.
During the night of August 7-8, 2008, Tbilisi sent in troops to try to retake control of South Ossetia from pro-Russian separatists.
Extra Russian forces entered the territory from North Ossetia to back up Russian peacekeepers already there.
The Georgian forces were defeated in days. By the conflict’s end on August 12, several hundred people had died.
The EU negotiated the truce between the two sides.
In a statement, the High Representative praised Georgia’s efforts to build its democratic institutions, strengthen the rule of law, and promote foreign direct investment.
The EU and Georgia have an association agreement, which includes a free trade area, as well as a visa-free travel agreement for Georgians seeking short-term stays in the EU.
These measures, however, fall short of what Georgia has been seeking, namely NATO and EU membership, which it sees as necessary to protect against Russian aggression.
In mid July, NATO again voiced support for Georgia’s membership at a meeting in Brussels, but it did not set a date for this to happen.
Shortly after the conflict, Russia unilaterally recognized the independence of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Only a handful of states have followed suit, including Russian ally Syria in May this year.