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EU agrees to send 200 observers to Georgia

Latest update : 2008-09-15

The EU has agreed to send a 200-strong observer mission to Georgia by Oct. 1 to deploy around the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia while the European Commission says it will provide Georgia up to 500 million euros in aid.

BRUSSELS - The European Commission said on Monday it would provide Georgia with up to 500 million euros ($700.7 million) by 2010 to aid its recovery after its conflict with Russia and hoped this would be matched by EU member states.

European External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the funds would go to assisting internally displaced people, post-conflict rehabilitation and economic recovery and towards new infrastructure.

"It will be 500 million of community money and we do hope by the way, this is normally the case, it will be matched by member states," she told a news briefing as European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss the Goergia crisis.

She said funding for this year alone would be 100 million euros and that the EU executive wanted to see an international donors' conference for Georgia take place as soon as possible.

Russia sent in its troops early last month after Georgian armed forces tried to retake South Ossetia, a breakaway, pro-Russian region of Georgia. Moscow said it acted to prevent "genocide" there, but Western states accused Russia of a disproportionate use of force.

Russian bombing raids and ground offensives targeted mainly military infrastructure across the country. However, a bridge on the main east-west rail link was also blown up, several apartment buildings in the town of Gori were hit, and civilian infrastructure struggled to cope with tens of thousands of refugees.

Russia this weekend pulled out troops from near the Georgian port of Poti, in line with a French-brokered deal to withdraw its soldiers from Georgia proper.

Date created : 2008-09-15