An EU expert commission has put the blame for last summer’s South Ossetia war on Georgia, but also holds Russia partly responsible, SPIEGEL has learned. The findings, which are still under wraps, are likely to reignite the debate on the causes of the war when they are published.
The independent commission appointed by the European Union to investigate the war between Georgia and Russia last summer has concluded that Tbilisi is responsible for causing the five-day conflict, SPIEGEL has learned.
According to diplomats in Brussels who are familiar with the contents of the secret document, the EU experts also assign part of the responsibility for the war to Russia, however. The report, which stems from an initiative by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his colleagues from the Benelux countries, concludes that Moscow escalated the conflict through its massive deployment of troops.
The international commission, which is headed by Heidi Tagliavini, wants to keep its findings under wraps until next week because the Swiss diplomat first wants to present the controversial results to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York. After that, the ambassadors of the 27 EU member states in Brussels and the Georgian and Russian governments will be simultaneously informed of the commission’s findings.
The publication of the report is set to spark renewed debate about who is responsible for the war. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has already complained that “some idiots say we started the war.” Tbilisi is mainly afraid that the report will reduce the chances of Georgia being allowed to join NATO within the near future.
The conflict broke out on Aug. 7, 2008 when Georgia attacked the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Russian forces quickly repelled the Georgian attack and advanced into Georgia. Hundreds of people, including many civilians, are believed to have died during the fighting before a ceasefire was agreed upon on Aug. 12.