Monday, February 16, 2009

OSCE military observers granted extra time in Georgia

On Thursday the twenty OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) military observers stationed in Georgia were granted extra time for their work.Originally they were scheduled to leave the country next Wednesday, but now their mandate has been extended until the end of June."Greece, the country that is in charge of the OSCE chairmanship in 2009, has done a lot of work to extend the OSCE mandate in Georgia. This has to be seen as some kind of concession on Russia's part", says Terhi Hakala, Head of the OSCE Mission to Georgia.

By the end of June the entire OSCE mandate in Georgia will come to an end.The twenty military observers are just one part of the organisation's agenda in Georgia. The observers patrol in pairs daily along the border of Georgia and South Ossetia.In the area they discuss with both civilians and the authorities and report their findings to the OSCE.In Georgia, the OSCE has also dealt with issues relating to the economy, human rights, and the environment. Currently the organisation has a 250-strong crew in the country. They all have to leave by the agreed deadline."Activities will be gradually shut down during the spring. We are still just formulating the plans on how to dismantle the mandate", Hakala continues.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in mid-January that Russia has nothing against the OSCE continuing its work in Georgia.In August of last year a war broke out between Georgia and Russia as the culmination of a dispute over the region of South Ossetia, which had separated from Georgia.Finland held the OSCE chairmanship last year, and Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb was heavily involved in the negotations to bring about a ceasefire in the conflict.

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