|EU Extends Georgia Ceasefire Monitor Mission|
|July 28, 2009|
("EU Extends Georgia Ceasefire Monitor Mission," published Monday at 1253 GMT, misstated that E.U. monitors didn't have a mandate to enter Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The correct version follows.)
BRUSSELS (AFP)--The European Union prolonged Monday for one year the E.U. ceasefire monitoring mission in Georgia, and expressed concern that Russia was blocking other observers from working there.
E.U. foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels, agreed to extend the mission until Sept. 14, 2010, given its success in promoting peace and stability, almost a year after Georgia's war with Russia.
In doing so, the ministers "called again on all parties to fully comply with their commitments, including the withdrawal of all military forces to the positions held prior to the outbreak of hostilities."
They also demanded that the observers - who with security personnel number almost 300 - be granted "unhindered access ... to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which has so far been denied."
The E.U. monitors carry out regular patrols along the de facto borders with breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia as part of the ceasefire accord brokered by the E.U. after the war in August but are unable to enter.
Russia designated the two rebel regions independent countries in the aftermath of the conflict, and the pro-Russian authorities there refuse to allow the observers in.
Moscow is also blocking an extension to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitoring mission for Georgia, leaving the E.U. monitors as the sole observers to keep the ceasefire vigil.
The ministers "noted with deep regret and concern that agreement has not been reached" on renewing that mission and a U.N. operation.
The issue of whether monitors from third countries, such as the U.S., Canada and Turkey, should join the E.U. mission will be debated when they meet in September.
Copyright (c) 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.
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