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The News in Brief

Tuesday, December 30
Greece regrets mandate of OSCE Mission in Georgia was suspended

Greece regrets that the mandate of the OSCE Mission in Georgia has been suspended, its Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis has stated.

“We regret very much that it was impossible to find a consensus between the 56 states so that the mission could continue its valuable work in Georgia,” Bakoyannis said in an interview published on Sunday. On January 1 Greece will become Chair of the OSCE for one year and the mandate of the OSCE Mission in Georgia expires on the same day.

On December 22 Russia did not consent to the extension of the Mission’s mandate. Its OSCE Permanent Representative Anvar Azimov stated that the mandate of the Georgian mission included Abkhazia and South Ossetia and had to be reviewed as Moscow has recognized these regions as independent. From the point of view of Russian legislation the extension of the Georgian mission was therefore illegal. “The Greek Chairmanship will make efforts to find a way of continuing OSCE activity in Georgia in any format which will be acceptable for all,” Bakoyannis added.

Under the previous Chairmanship of Finland the OSCE proposed to “technically” extend the OSCE Mission in Georgia until the end of March to give time for talks on the new mandate. But Russia considered that a decision on “technical” extension must address the question of the provisions of the old mandate which expires on January 1. After the old mandate has expired, according to OSCE procedures, the mission will begin closure operations which can last two to three months, and talks may be continued during these months.
(Black Sea Press)

Chancellery of Georgian Government wins award

The Chancellery of the Government of Georgia has won an award for “The Best Administrative Procedure in Freedom of Information” in the “Freedom of Information – Fundamental Right” contest. As Black Sea Press was informed at the Press Service of the Chancellery of the Government, the Young Lawyers Association of Georgia held this contest in December within the framework of Human Rights week with OSCE support.

The aim of the contest was to identify the state institutions which provide freedom of information, access to information for citizens and consider administrative suits in accordance with legal requirements.
(Black Sea Press)

American warship arrived in Poti

On Monday the US Navy guided missile frigate Taylor arrived at Poti port. As a Black Sea Press reporter was informed at the Press Service of the US Embassy in Georgia, the frigate’s visit was a friendly one. Yesterday 20 members of the ship’s crew helped with the repair works at Poti Theatre.

The frigate will leave Poti today. After the New Year holiday another American vessel will visit Poti.
(Black Sea Press)

President of Latvia to pay his first state visits of 2009 to Estonia and Georgia

President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers will pay his first state visits of 2009 to Estonia, the Adviser of the President on International Affairs Andris Pelsh has informed journalists.

The President of Latvia will visit Estonia in January and intends to pay a working visit to Georgia ‘sometime at the beginning of the year.’ Valdis Zatlers has been President of Latvia since 2007.
(Black Sea Press)

“Red Line” is needed in relations with Russia –Czech Republic

Russia must adhere to general rules of international policy in its relations with the European Union, Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg stated, as quorted by Czech media.

In January 2009 the Czech Republic will assume the rotating Chairmanship of the EU. Schwarzenberg considers that the European Union must not pursue too warm policy towards Russia and always meet its requirements. He says that Russia must not talk about “some privileged interests abroad.”

“I am not for confrontation with Moscow. But I want both parties (Russia and the EU) to adhere to certain rules,” Schwarzenberg said. The Czech Foreign Minister noted that if Russia claimed it had special privileges in particular areas, “in such cases a red line must be established beyond which the EU must not make concessions.”

Official Prague considers that the Eastern Partnership project, which would consolidate cooperation between the EU and some states of the former USSR, namely, Georgia and the Ukraine, should be a priority during its Chairmanship of the EU. “A policy of good neighbourliness with the East is our priority. We much achieve a balance in Europe,” Schwarzenberg added.
(Black Sea Press)

Kokoity concerned about theft of humanitarian aid

De facto President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity has commissioned the General Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the reported stealing of humanitarian aid rendered after the war in August and promised to punish any culprits. This is stated in a message from Kokoity published on a South Ossetian Government website.

“I have commissioned the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Committee of State Security and the Committee of State Control and Economic Security of the Republic to check thoroughly all possible violations of the process of distribution of humanitarian aid. We will return to this issue and culprits will be punished,” he said.
(Black Sea Press)