Authorities in breakaway Abkhazia stepped up attacks on head of EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM), Andrzej Tyszkiewicz, saying that he was “clearly indisposed to constructive” cooperation and suggesting that he should be replaced.
Sokhumi, which has declared the EUMM head as “undesirable person on the Abkhaz territory”, is refusing to participate in monthly meetings of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms in Gali in presence of the EUMM head.
“We would not like this mechanism to be suspended because of this reason. If the participation particularly of Tyszkiewicz and not another representative from EUMM is a matter of principle for Georgia and EU, then there is nothing else I can do but throw up hands,” Irakli Khintba, the deputy foreign minister of breakaway Abkhazia, said in an interview with the Abkhaz news agency Apsnipress on May 3.
“Our position in respect of Tyszkiewicz is final and irreversible. I think that staff changes in EUMM leadership could have a positive effect on the resolution of current situation,” he said.
He also said that Sokhumi’s protest is directed not against the EUMM as an institution, but particularly against the head of mission.
“If Mr. Tyszkiewicz is dismissed from his position, it will not mean at all that the EUMM will stop functioning,” Khintba said. “We remember his [Tyszkiewicz’s] predecessor, Mr. [Hansjörg] Haber, who was not sharing our political views, but he was a delicate diplomat, understanding degree of responsibility for each careless word or action under conditions of unresolved conflict.”
“We are not against of continuation of EUMM’s activities on the territories adjacent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” he said. “The most important is that EUMM to contribute to security and stability with deeds. Obviously, it will not happen if the EUMM leadership serves the interests of authorities in Tbilisi, instead of following strictly to the mission’s mandate.”
“Unfortunately, Mr. Tyszkiewicz was evidently indisposed to constructive communication with us,” Khintba said and added by referring to the fact that Tyszkiewicz is a retired lieutenant general of the Polish army that EUMM head “is an experienced military, but definitely different kind of skills is required for building a dialogue in the Caucasus.”
“Not a single country will tolerate disparaging and at times insulting remarks in its address. We demand Abkhazia to be respected,” he said.
Sokhumi accuses the EUMM head of ignoring the Abkhaz side’s requests to look into murder cases that took place in the Gali district in recent months. Breakaway Abkhazia’s foreign minister Vyacheslav Chirikba claimed that when he asked Tyszkiewicz on the sideline of Geneva talks in late March why he was ignoring those cases, the EUMM head responded, as claimed by Chirikba, that his mission would look into those cases involving Abkhaz “corpses” after Sokhumi lets the EUMM observers inside Abkhazia. “He used exactly that word – ‘corpses’; that was very disrespectful and cynical,” Chirikba said in April.
His deputy, Irakli Khintba, said on May 3, that Sokhumi had “positive” relations with EU’s special representative for South Caucasus, Philippe Lefort, who is a co-chairman of the Geneva discussions.
Khintba also said that a statement of a spokesperson of EU’s foreign policy chief, as well as a joint statement by co-chairs of the Geneva talks about the failed April 24 IPRM meeting in Gali, was “quite balanced.”
“I am sure that there is always a way out from any kind of a situation,” Khintba added.