Tbilisi Bars Inspections

TBILSI, Georgia -- Georgia on Thursday refused Russia permission to inspect its military facilities, allowed under a 1999 agreement, citing Russia's "continued occupation" of two separatist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russia has the right to inspect Georgian military facilities as a signatory to the Vienna Document 1999 of the Negotiations on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures, adopted at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in November 1999.

"We have refused Russia's request, since it continues the occupation that began in August," Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze told reporters in Tbilisi.

Vashadze said Russia's presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia constitutes a force majeure, an uncontrollable event that releases Georgia from its obligations under the 1999 agreement.

Per Eklund, head of the European Commission's delegation to Georgia, said after meeting with Vashadze that Georgia had "good arguments" for invoking force majeure. "If occupation isn't a force majeure, then I don't know what is," he said.