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Observers leave Georgia

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, July 1
The last members of the OSCE mission in Georgia have already left their offices, the 17-year work of this mission having ended on June 30. A similar process is now underway in the Georgian breakaway province of Abkhazia, where UN observers have another two weeks in which to leave the region.

The extension of both missions was blocked by Russia, which demanded that the international community “take into account the new realties” which Russia created in the South Caucasus after the August war and the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia demanded that the UN and OSCE create separate representations on these territories, a move which would effectively mean that the international community recognised them as independent states. This position was condemned by an absolute majority of OSCE and UN member states, meaning Russia had to use its veto right to force its position on these organisations.

“The [OSCE] mission has undertaken many projects and planned to do more, however events are developing in a different scenario,” stated Terhi Hakala, the former head of the OSCE mission in Georgia at the farewell reception in Tbilisi last week.

“It is indeed unfortunate that Russia continues to deepen its self-imposed isolation from the civilized world. Every decision that Russia makes with regard to Georgia further deepens the abyss between Russia and the international community. Russia's veto [on the extension of the observer missions] will be conducive to increased instability and further human rights violations in the occupied Georgian regions, as the last international instrument to check the uncontrolled Russian military presence in the occupied Georgian regions has been removed,” stated the Georgian Foreign Ministry in June, commenting Russia’s decision.

Tbilisi has also underlined that after the withdrawal of the OSCE and UN the role of the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) will become even more important. EUMM is now the only international monitor in Georgia, however it does not have permission to enter the breakaway regions.

“The Georgian Foreign Ministry will continue its efforts to ensure the return of one of the international missions to the conflict zones. There is however no readymade formula for how to provide EU monitors with access to the conflict regions or achieve the return of international missions,” stated Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Nalbandov in Tbilisi on June 29.