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A second attempt at a new OSCE mandate2009-01-19 10:12
On 15th January a session of the OSCE Permanent Council devoted to the continuing presence of its observers in Georgia and South Ossetia took place in Vienna. The Mission's mandate in the region was not extended.
Russia again, now for the second time, imposed a veto on the extension of the OSCE Mission in Georgia. Rosbalt reported this with reference to the TV station Imedi. Therefore on 19th February the international observers will have to conclude their work in the region.
The session was chaired by Greece's Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis. This country replaced Finland as holding the OSCE presidency from 2009. Let's look back at the history of the issue.
On its consideration by the OSCE Permanent Council on 22nd December, Russia failed to agree to extending the mandate of the Mission in Georgia. The problem was that it referred to Abkhazia and South Ossetia as being part of that country, whereas the Russians had recognized the independence of these republics in August.
"The mandate," RIA-Novosti quoted Russia's representative at the OSCE Anvar Azimov back then, "has become hopelessly outdated as a result of the changed reality of the current situation and requires that all its clauses referring to South Ossetia and Abkhazia be removed from it. In that case, Russia would agree to the adoption of separate independent Missions."
Nevertheless, there was a veto which meant that the mandate was not extended, and the observers had to leave Georgia's territory. However at Greece's initiative there was a second consideration of the issue on 15th January.
Before this session, both the Russian and Georgian sides once again put forward their arguments.
Anvar Azimov again expressed his readiness to take part in devising independent mandates for the organization's representatives in Tbilisi and Tskhinvali, as RIA-Novosti reported. Although he stressed again that the organization needed to take into account the "fundamentally different alignment of forces in the region since the famous August events".
And Georgia's State Minister for Reintegration Temuri Yakobashvili confirmed that it was important for his country to keep the OSCE mission, but not at any cost. "For us our territorial integrity is a fundamental principle, therefore in no circumstances will we agree to the formulation of a mandate in such a way that it would violate this main principle".