OSCE mission not likely to be prolonged
By Temuri Kiguradze
Friday, January 16
Georgia doesn’t expect Russia to change its decision concerning the OSCE mission’s presence in Georgia at the OSCE summit in Vienna on January 15. The sides are trying to find a formula under which it will be possible to maintain an OSCE mission in Georgia, but Russia’s right of veto makes the retention of the mission less possible, Grigol Vashadze, the Georgian Foreign Minister, has said.
Talking to journalists Georgia’s Ambassador to the OSCE, Victor Dolidze, said that although efforts were underway, he personally was not optimistic about a positive outcome. In the case of a final negative decision Georgia plans to request the enlargement of the EU Monitoring Mission [EUMM] in Georgia. “Russia doesn’t have any influence on the decision of the EU,” stated Georgian State Minister on Euro-Atlantic integration Giorgi Baramidze, also talking to Georgian journalists on January 15.
The OSCE mission’s prolongation in Georgia was blocked by Russia in December 2008. As a result the mission is currently going through formal winding-up procedures. The official cause of Russia’s veto was its demand to establish separate missions in Georgia and its breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia recognized as ‘independent states’ after the war with Georgia in August.
OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, has stated that the crisis in Georgia is "both a challenge and an opportunity." "This crisis has shaken us out of our complacency, and reminded us that our job is not done. It therefore provides us with the opportunity to look afresh at the mechanisms we have created, to re-dedicate ourselves to the full implementation of our agreed commitments, and to consider new ways to build indivisible security," she said.
Bakoyannis also underscored the urgent need to find consensus on continuing the OSCE's work in Georgia: "The future of the OSCE presence in Georgia requires our special attention. It is evident that the situation on the ground and throughout the region requires more OSCE presence, not less. The OSCE has a long tradition of imaginative and flexible solutions, but these can only work if there is good will and political courage on all sides."
Meanwhile, Eduard Kokoity, the South Ossetian de facto leader, said on January 14 that OSCE "does not enjoy credibility" in Tskhinvali because of its conduct during the August war. He also said that Tskhinvali did not want “to place an iron curtain between it and the rest of the world,” but added that the OSCE should have relations with Tskhinvali as an equal partner. The separatists’ ‘President’ stated that the OSCE and EU “have to recognize the responsibility for the events of 2008 August in South Ossetia.”
Georgian officials assume that the UN mission in Georgia might suffer the same fate as the OSCE mission. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has a right of veto on all UN decisions. “Russia may use its right of veto to get rid of the UN mission in Georgia. That will remove unwanted witnesses, in Moscow’s view, of its actions in the conflict regions,” said Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Nalbandov, speaking to The Messenger.