DE RUEHSI #1417 2361128
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 231128Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9945
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS TBILISI 001417
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: ASEC AEMR AMGT CASC KFLO AFIN GG SUBJECT: GEORGIA - REQUEST TO LIFT AUTHORIZED DEPARTURE
REF: A. STATE 85615
B. TBILISI 1344
1. This is an action request to M from Ambassador John Tefft. See paragraph 2.
2. Embassy Tbilisi's Emergency Action Committee met August 23 and concurs with the Ambassador's recommendation to request the lifting of Authorized Departure for Embassy Tbilisi. Based on our assessment of the current conditions in Tbilisi and the fact that most of the Russian forces in the country have departed to Russia or to positions within the conflict zone, the EAC agrees with the Ambassador's recommendation that embassy dependents return to Tbilisi from Yerevan and that new employees and their families be permitted to proceed as scheduled to post. We anticipate that once Authorized Departure is lifted, it may take 48-72 hours for us to arrange transportation for families currently in Yerevan who are without their own transportation. New employees and their families still in the U.S., as well as employees and family members in the U.S. on R and R or leave, may also require several days in order to make new flight arrangements to return to Tbilisi. We appreciate the Department's support throughout this recent period. The Chief of Mission fully supports this request.
3. The current situation in Tbilisi is calm and both Georgians and expatriates alike are beginning to filter back into the capital as summer vacations end. There are no food or gasoline shortages, utilities and electricity have functioned normally, and the banking system and economy has remained stable throughout the crisis. All the major airline carriers have resumed their regular service to Tbilisi and passenger loads are normal for this time of year. Other western embassies, including the UK and Germany, are in the process of bringing their dependents back to Tbilisi (French dependents never left.). Tbilisi's international school, attended by nearly all mission school-age children, it preparing to open as scheduled on August 28. International teaching staff members have already arrived in Tbilisi to prepare for the upcoming school year. We are eager to have family members back in Tbilisi to start school on time. The Embassy's local guard force is at work and the mobile patrol is working normally. We appreciate the Department's support in obtaining additional funding for permanent guards at the mission's largest single housing compound, which is located outside of the city.
4. We note that a large number of IDP's are currently in temporary shelters in Tbilisi; however, many are expected to return to their homes in the Gori region now that Russian troops have withdrawn from the main road and checkpoints have been disassembled. We will be paying close attention to any reports of a rise in crime rates in Tbilisi or in the rest of the country.
5. Once authorized departure is lifted and family members return to Tbilisi, we will require RSO approval for employee and dependent travel outside of the capital area (also reflected in our updated draft travel warning). As conditions continue to stabilize, we anticipate being able to loosen this restriction to allow more access to parts of the country outside of Tbilisi and will update our travel warning accordingly. TEFFT