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Dora Bakoyannis is in search of a compromise2009-03-24 14:55
The OSCE Chairman, Dora Bakoyannis, made a working visit to Tbilisi on 23rd March. At a meeting with the Georgian Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, and the state minister for reintegration, Temur Yakobashvili, she discussed the possibility of continuing the work of the organization's mission in the region.
"Minister Vashadze and I discussed all our initiatives for extending the OSCE mandate in Georgia. This conversation was constructive, and the Georgians showed the highest possible understanding," Bakoyannis is quoted by the Trend news agency. "The European Union cannot and must not remain alone in Georgia, it will not be able to replace the OSCE because it doesn't have broad powers." Bakoyannis also emphasized that she was intending to solve the problem of the mission by proceeding from a recognition of Georgia's territorial integrity.
In turn, the Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze remarked: "Georgia needs an OSCE presence in order to use its multilateral efforts to solve the problems which were caused by Russian aggression and the occupation of the conflict regions," he is quoted as saying by Civil.ge. "Greece has well-considered grounds for achieving a compromise, and the Georgian side promises to support these in every possible way."
What exactly these well-considered "grounds" by Greece are, Vashadze did not say. However, we know that on 21st March during a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bakoyannis discussed issues surrounding the OSCE. This was reported by a Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman, Giorgios Koumoutsakos. According to RIA Novosti, the Greek press immediately started talking about a compromise on the OSCE's status in Georgia. However, Bakoyannis' visit to Tbilisi did not remove all the questions.
The mandate of the OSCE observers expired on 1st January this year. At the moment 20 OSCE military observers are working in Georgia, and the mission itself is winding down. As a result of the change to South Ossetia's status, Russia has already twice used its veto to block a technical extension of the mandate.
The discussion of the problem has become sluggish and intractable. Russia is insisting on the opening of two independent missions in Tbilisi and Tskhinvali, whereas Georgia insists that its own "territorial integrity" be observed with all the resulting consequences. On the eve of Bakoyannis' visit, Grigol Vashadze gave the following comment regarding the current situation: