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EU concerned over deployment of Georgian armored vehicles

RIA Novosti

26/12/2008 20:49 MOSCOW, December 26 (RIA Novosti) -- The European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) said on Friday it was concerned over the deployment by Georgia of Cobra armored vehicles in areas close to the South Ossetian and Abkhazian borders.

The EU said the deployment of the vehicles that started on December 24 was against the EUMM's advice.

"EUMM has consistently advised against the deployment of these military-type vehicles because it firmly believes that they will not contribute to enhancing the security situation on the ground," said Hansjorg Haber, the head of the EUMM mission.

Haber said, however, that the deployment of Cobra vehicles "is not in violation of the relevant provisions" the September 8 Implementation Agreement.

He said that although there was a sense of insecurity in the area, "on the whole, EUMM would still assess the security situation as better than expected so far."

"The restraint shown by Georgian law enforcement officers has played an important role in maintaining this level of security," the head of mission said.

Georgia said it had informed international observers, including OSCE monitors on the ground, about their intention to deploy Cobra vehicles in November. The Georgian Interior Ministry also informed international monitors that the vehicles would not be equipped with heavy weaponry.

Cobra vehicles were involved in the Russia-Georgia conflict in August. At least one Cobra vehicle was seized by Russian troops or members of the South Ossetian militia during the hostilities.



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