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Lithuania takes over OSCE chairmanship, names Georgia as one of the priorities

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, January 4
The priority of Lithuania in its capacity as OSCE Chairmanship holder state, will be the “advancement of the solution to protracted conflicts in Transdniestria and the South Caucasus, as well as the situation in Georgia,” the Lithuanian Foreign Minister, the new Chairperson-in-office of the OSCE Audronius Azubalis said in an interview posted on the official website of the OSCE on January 1st.

Lithuania took over the Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2011 from the previous Chairmanship state – Kazakhstan. According to the Lithuanian officials, during the year of Lithuania’s chairmanship, they will focus on “internal and external threats in the OSCE area, fostering democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, notably freedom of the media, promoting energy security in Europe and building upon synergies between regional organizations.”

“We will work towards building a true security community, without dividing lines, where commitments are implemented, the use of force is unthinkable, and human rights and fundamental freedoms are fully respected,” Azubalis noted “The OSCE can do more to address old and new threats and challenges in the 21st century – both internal and those stemming from outside the OSCE area,” he added.

Azubalis stressed the importance of regional cooperation as a “vital” tool for building “long-term stability in volatile regions” and an “important contribution to addressing protracted conflicts in the OSCE area. “The advancement of the solution to protracted conflicts in Transdniestria and the South Caucasus, as well as the situation in Georgia will be a priority of the Lithuanian Chairmanship’s agenda,” the Lithuanian Foreign Minister noted, adding that “The OSCE has an important role to play, in particular through the promotion of understanding and tolerance between the societies which are part of the conflicts, and we would like to see a more active OSCE role here.”

Among other issues Azubalis named cyber-security, trafficking of people and drugs as some of the “transnational threats affecting all of the OSCE,” this is according to the organization's official website. The OSCE Chairperson-in-office pointed out that “In the OSCE, human rights and fundamental freedoms are at the core of security.” He noted that media freedom and security of journalists are of “crucial importance” for a democratic society. “Lithuania, as a part of the Baltic Sea region and a member of the European union and NATO, believes that a network of regional and sub-regional organizations, complementing each other’s activities and those of the OSCE, will be more than the sum of its parts. Synergy between such organizations is vital for building a stronger security community,” Azubalis stated.

Tbilisi has welcomed the statements of the OSCE Chairperson-in-office. Lithuania has been Georgia’s long term ally, MP from the ruling National Movement Party, Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Georgian Parliament Giorgi Kandelaki told The Messenger. He hailed Lithuanian PMs for being “the first to take a firm stand on a non-recognition policy [of Georgia’s breakaway regions] and of using the terms “occupation” and “ethnic cleansing”.

However, the MP pointed out that Tbilisi should not hope for a “breakthrough,” referring to the expectations of possible restoring of OSCE mission in Georgia, vetoed by Russia following the 2008 August war. “The decision on this issue is being made through a consensus [of the OSCE member states] so we should not expect any breakthrough in this direction,” Kandelaki added.