Greece calls for greater OSCE involvement in global crises

Other News Materials 28 February 2009 01:04 (UTC +04:00)

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is under Greek leadership this year, should do more to help settle conflicts around the world, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said Friday.

Bakoyannis cited the brief war last August in the Caucasus, which pitted Russian troops against Georgian forces over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, as well as the situation in Kosovo and Afghanistan, Xinhua reported.

She said in an address to the United Nations Security Council that the lack of a settlement in the Georgian conflict has put the UN mission in a "technical phase of closure."

The small UN mission was tasked with monitoring a ceasefire line between Tbilisi and Abkhazia, which, like South Ossetia, seceded from Georgia and allied itself with Russia.

Bakoyannis said the Greek government intends to play an important role as an "honest broker" to resolve the crisis in the Caucasus.

But Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was critical of the OSCE's role, which he claimed failed to become involved early when the fighting erupted in South Ossetia.

He called for a "radical improvement" in the group's institutions. Russia had also criticized the West of siding with Georgia.

The OSCE was created during the Cold War era as an East-West forum aimed at conflict prevention and post-war rehabilitation. It now has 56 participating states from Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and North America.

"The Greek OSCE chairmanship is dedicated to taking the OSCE further in the field of border security and policing," particularly in Central Asia, Bokayannis said, adding that Afghanistan will remain a priority for the group.

"Greece is determined to maintain the highest standards for OSCE election observation activities," she said. "This year will see important elections throughout the OSCE region, elections must remain a flagship activity of the organization."