Ministers call for extension of OSCE monitors in Georgia

Georgia Materials 4 December 2008 17:22 (UTC +04:00)

Talks between Russia and Georgia in Geneva were welcomed Thursday by several foreign ministers attending a meeting of the 56-nation Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Finland, reported dpa.

The European Union and the OSCE helped broker a ceasefire after the war in August that included the stationing of military monitors from the OSCE.

The mandate of the monitors expires December 31 and ministers including Georgian Foreign Minister Ekaterine Tkeshelashvili said there was need for an extension of the OSCE mission in Georgia.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, speaking on behalf of the 27-nation bloc, said the observers had played an important role.

Kouchner said a lasting solution to the conflict in Georgia rested on respect for principles of independence and territorial integrity.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made similar remarks in his speech, saying "encouraging signs have emerged from the Geneva talks" chaired by the EU, OSCE and United Nations.

He added that Germany wanted "to come to an agreement quickly on a viable mandate for the OSCE's work in all of Georgia."

Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, who holds the rotating chairmanship, said in his opening spEech the chairmanship year included "some bad news," specifically mentioning the "ferocious conflict and war in Georgia."

"It is something that I never want to see again. It was the first time in my life that I saw war close up," Stubb said.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also backed OSCE military monitoring in Georgia and breakaway regions.

The OSCE's activities include election monitoring. It has also been engaged in efforts to solve so-called frozen conflicts involving the breakaway regions of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan and Transnistria in Moldova.