The Russian and Georgian Foreign Ministries published a joint declaration, which outlines the process of withdrawal of two Russian military bases from Georgia. It also deals with border delimitation and conflict resolution issues. This joint declaration was signed by Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Salome Zourabichvili, after talks in Moscow on May 30.
According to the declaration, Russia has committed to putting its two military bases, in Batumi and Akhalkalaki, into “a pullout regime” starting from the moment this declaration was signed. The Russian side has pledged to finish the withdrawal process sometime during 2008. The Russian side has no right to carry out the rotation of arms or equipment during this pullout process, but does have the right to rotate solders currently serving on the bases.
The sides also agreed to launch talks over an agreement which will prescribe details of the setting up of a joint Russo-Georgian anti-terrorist center. Part of the Russian personnel and equipment currently stationed in Batumi will be used for the setting up of this center.
Pullout of the Military Hardware
The withdrawal of military hardware from the Russian military bases will be launched in 2005 and at least 40 armored vehicles, including 20 tanks, will be withdrawn before September 1, 2005.
The process of withdrawal of military hardware from the Akhalkalaki military base should be over by the end of 2006.
The complete withdrawal of military hardware in both bases should be over by October 1, 2007, “and not later then the end of 2007, taking weather conditions into account.”
For the purpose of withdrawal of military hardware the Georgian side will allow the Russian side to deliver necessary spare parts to the military bases to help facilitate this process.
Handover of the Military Facilities
The Russian side will hand over to Georgia the military facilities which are not used by the group of Russian Troops stationed in Trans-Caucasus (headquarters in Tbilisi) before September 1, 2005.
The communications relay facility in Kojori and a training camp in Gonio, Adjara Autonomous Republic, will be also handed over to Georgia by September 1, 2005, while the Armor/Tank Repair Factory No 142 in Tbilisi will be handed over to Georgia before June 15, 2005.
The process of handing over all the military facilities which are not part of the Russian military bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki should be over before January 1, 2007.
Route of Withdrawal/Financing
The Georgian side will assist Russia in the process of pulling out military hardware and personnel via the port of Batumi, airport of Batumi via Ninotsminda, which borders Armenia.
The Russian and Georgian sides will cooperate in an attempt to raise additional funds to cover transportation expenses.
Part of personnel, equipment and infrastructure currently belonging to the Batumi military base will be used to set up a joint, Russo-Georgian, anti-terrorist center.
Details about this joint anti-terrorist center will be outlined in a separate agreement, which is expected to prescribe the number of personnel and equipment which will be assigned to the center.
According to the joint communique, the two sides pledge to develop an agreement over the joint anti-terrorist center in the near future.
Gudauta Military Base
The sides also agreed to continue working over the launch of an international monitoring program for the military base in Gudauta, breakaway Abkhazia, under the aegis of the OSCE.
Russia claims it has already closed down its base in Gudauta, as envisaged by the 1999 OSECE Istanbul treaty; however Georgian insists on international monitoring of the base to verify the fact of closure.
The joint communique says that Russia and Georgia expressed interest in finalizing an agreement over the delimitation of Russo-Georgian state borders during 2005.
The sides also expressed a readiness to work over a political settlement of the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia “solely through peaceful means” and based on the principle of respect for Georgia’s territorial integrity.