MOSCOW, August 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister accused on Wednesday the Georgian leader of attempting to destabilize the Caucasus region by inviting U.S. observers to join the EU's monitoring mission.
The EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) is the only remaining international mission in the country, observing military activities on the border with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
"The scheme behind this is perfectly clear, and we have openly told our American colleagues about this. The plan is to attract Americans to Georgia and place U.S. observers alongside Russian soldiers. And from there, the masters of provocations, plenty of which are available to [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili, will try to do their usual work," Sergei Lavrov told the Vesti television channel.
He said deploying U.S. observers would be "simply inappropriate," running counter to the peace plan drawn up by the presidents of Russia and France after last August's Russia-Georgia war.
However, the diplomat said Russia continues to support the EU mission.
"The presence of EU observers in Georgian regions bordering South Ossetia and Abkhazia is a major stabilizing factor, and we support this presence."
Two other international missions were previously serving in the region.
Russia used its veto to block an extension of the UN observer mission's mandate in Georgia and Abkhazia last month, in protest against the resolution's failure to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's mission, which had worked in Georgia since 1992, left at the start of this year after its mandate expired.
The EU observers remain only on the Georgian side of the border with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, due to the refusal of the two republics, as well as Russia, to let the monitors into the territories as long as the EU refuses to recognize them as independent countries.
Lavrov said disagreements with Western powers over last August's war are no longer a barrier to good relations.
"Our latest contacts with our Western partners have shown that they hold a different stance on Georgia, but this is done without tensions, on a routine basis, and the Georgian issue no longer hampers the development of our relations," the Russian foreign minister said.
On the upcoming visit to Moscow of Heidi Tagliviani, the head of the European Union investigation into the causes of the 2008 South Ossetia War, Lavrov said: "I hope this diplomat, who is a responsible and respectable person, will perform her functions honestly and submit an objective report to the European Union."