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OSCE Chairman vows to help Georgians in conflict areas

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, February 6
Austrian Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman Sebastian Kurz vows to help Georgians living in conflict areas, as 20 percent of Georgia's lands – regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) - are now occupied by Russia, and local and foreign organisations frequently speak out against violations in and near the breakaway areas.

Kurz, who paid an official visit to Georgia and held meetings with senior Georgian officials last week and become familiarised with the existing situations in and adjacent areas of the de facto territories.

"Georgia is a country with great economic potential, where several Austrian companies are represented, which want to further expand their activities in Georgia. As the OSCE chairman, I would like to assure you that I will do my best to contribute to improving the living conditions of people in conflict areas," the Minister said.

Kurz congratulated Georgia on the decision of the European Parliament on granting the country visa liberalisation, and stressed Austria’s firm support for the European integration and territorial integrity of Georgia.

Kurz visited the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) in the village of Ergneti, near Georgia's breakaway region of Tskhinvali), where the regular meetings of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) take place. He also met with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in one of the nearby IDP settlements.

At a meeting with Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze, the pair discussed ways to increase the OSCE’s involvement in the peaceful resolution of the Russian-Georgian conflict focusing on the security, humanitarian and human rights situations in Georgia’s occupied territories.

They also spoke about the involvement of the OSCE Austrian Chairmanship in the process of confidence building between the war-torn communities living on both sides of the occupation line.

Special importance was paid to Georgia’s close co-operation with OSCE institutions in the democratization process of the country. Talking points also included prospects for deepening bilateral relations between Georgia and Austria.