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Georgia the focus of OSCE discussions

By Temuri Kiguradze
Monday, June 29
Security problems in Georgia were one of the topics discussed at the informal OSCE Ministerial on the Greek island of Corfu on June 28.

This was the first informal meeting of the Foreign Ministers of OSCE states since the August war in Georgia. The participants discussed ways of providing a stable security system for Europe. "We agreed on the need for an open, sustained, wide-ranging and inclusive dialogue on security and concurred that the OSCE is a natural forum to anchor this dialogue, because it is the only regional organisation bringing together all states from Vancouver to Vladivostok on an equal basis," stated Greek Foreign Minister and current OSCE Chair Dora Bakoyannis.

OSCE Ministers also discussed the blocking the OSCE mission in Georgia by the Russian delegation and the fact that after Russia’s subsequent veto on the extension of the UN mission the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are left without any kind of the international observation. The only monitoring structure in Georgia is the EU monitoring mission, which is not allowed to cross the administrative border of the breakaway territories.

“I just asked for one millimetre of progress in Georgia in giving the European Union observers access to the other side of the line,” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters. “This has not been accepted,” he said.

“The OSCE mission [in Georgia] is technically closed from the 1st of January. We were quite active in the first five months of this year trying to get the agreement of all 56 participant countries for keeping the mission there with a neutral status, but we did not manage to get this agreement. However in spite of this we hope we will be able to achieve a certain agreement and restart discussion of the issue,” said Dora Bakoyannis on June 28. Speaking to journalists she added that “for the moment there is nothing new to report” on this issue.

“I think in the future it will be important to have some sort of conflict prevention mechanism in the OSCE directly involving the Chair of the OSCE, because when we see threats are coming the OSCE should be able to act immediately. This is what we have learnt from the Russian-Georgian conflict. We have to stick to our commitments and we have to go on with the Geneva processes,” the EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said at the same meeting.

Corfu meeting participants also discussed the proposal of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for a new European security structure including a treaty encompassing all of Europe and North America. “My feeling is that no one wants anything brand new,” Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said. "Almost everyone thinks that the existing security organisations in Europe are working quite well,” he added, as quoted by the AP news agency.

The Georgian delegation also delivered a speech at the informal summit. Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria, the leader of the delegation, also commented on the Russian-proposed security plan. “The concept Russia has presented, that the extensions of NATO and EU membership have created security problems, is fundamentally unacceptable for Georgia. Europe has become more secure since NATO and the EU enlarged. A common neighbourhood with NATO and the EU presents no danger for any country if it does not intend to interfere in a neighbour’s affairs and use force against it,” Bokeria said on Sunday.