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OSCE is leaving Georgia2008-12-24 13:39
From January 1 2009 the mission of the European Parliamentary Assembly ceases its operation in Georgia. It was stated by the Chairman of its Permanent Council Antti Turunen following the session in Vienna on December 22.
He specified that it was a forced action as "one country" was against prolongation of the monitoring mission's work. Russia is implied here. Accordingly the mission that has been operating in the conflict areas of Georgia for 16 years is now abolished.
Its mandate term ends on December 31. As early as in November Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Grigory Karasin made a statement that Russia insisted on modification of the OSCE monitoring mission's formal status in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Then it was specified by Russia's Permanent representative to OSCE Anvar Azimov. He stated that the "current mandate of the mission in Georgia comprises Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Such a situation is inacceptable for these regions have been recognized as independent states".
That means South Ossetia will welcome the OSCE mission that is authorized to operate in the republic. The same is with Abkhazia. But the West did not accept that.
Earlier in an interview with RIA Novosti a source in the OSCE forecast that the mission's mandate was unlikely to be extended. "It is not impossible that the Finnish chairmanship will insist on its prolongation for at least three months. However this decision will hardly be taken", - he stated.
This is how it turned out in the end. It was Finland's Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb at the meeting of the Permanent Council in Vienna to call on the colleagues to "arrange for at least a technical extension for the purpose of further negotiations". But Moscow cut this proposal short.
Foreseeing such a turn the USA tried to convince Russia that it was not entitled to blockade the OSCE mission's work. This is what Matthew Bryza, Assistant Secretary of State, said addressing Moscow on December 18. He was quoted on Day.az:
"Russia has no right to deal with the problem of the monitoring mission's operation in Georgia. Monitoring missions must be allowed to the conflict areas. This is the territory of Georgia, and if Georgia and the EU decide the observers will enter these territories despite Russia's position".
Now the Bush Administration is accusing Russia of blockading OSCE decision on extension of the mission in Georgia. This is reported in the statement of Sean McCormack, the Department of State official representative, disseminated in Washington.