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Russia Against Extra OSCE Observers in S.Ossetia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow was against the deployment of additional OSCE observers inside South Ossetia.

He accused supporters of “Saakashvili’s regime” among OSCE-member states of hindering talks on modalities of deployment of an extra 80 unarmed observers on the ground.

While Russia insists on their deployment alongside EU monitors in areas adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Tbilisi and its western allies are pushing for an OSCE mandate inside South Ossetia as well.

Speaking at a hearing of the foreign relations committee of Russia’s upper house of Parliament – the Federal Council – on September 18, Lavrov said that Tbilisi’s and its allies’ insistence on deploying OSCE observers inside the region was “a mockery of common sense” and an attempt to revise the agreement reached between the Russian and French presidents in Moscow on September 8, Interfax news agency reported.

According to the agreement, OSCE observers will be able to resume monitoring inside breakaway South Ossetia in accordance with the mandate they had before the war. That means that no more than eight OSCE observers will be able to monitor the situation in a 15-km radius around the breakaway region’s capital, Tskhinvali.

The agreement, however, also says that this mandate should be subject “without prejudice to possible corrections in future through a decision of the OSCE Permanent Council.”

Before signing the September 8 agreement, Russia gave its consent – OSCE decision-making processes are based on consensus – to send an additional 100 observers to Georgia. The deal meant the deployment of 20 observers immediately in areas adjacent to the breakaway region and the continuation of talks on the modalities of deployment of the remaining 80 observers. The 20 observers, plus eight already working in Georgia, have been able to monitor some parts of the Russian-occupied areas outside South Ossetia.

Lavrov said that the major goal of the deployment of extra OSCE observers in Georgia was to “prevent a reoccurrence of Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia and Abkhazia.”

Attempts to allow “more international bureaucrats inside South Ossetia,” he continued, “and to then announce that this is the territory of Georgia, amounts to playing ideological games at the expense of the real goals of providing security to the republics and rebuilding South Ossetia.”

Meanwhile, in what appears to be an anti-OSCE campaign, the secessionist authorities of breakaway South Ossetia announced on September 17 that local law enforcement officers had found “leaflets calling for the toppling of the legally elected leadership of South Ossetia” in the basement of the OSCE mission’s field office in Tskhinvali.

In the statement posted on the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee website, the Tskhinvali field office of the OSCE Mission in Georgia is referred as “the former premises of the OSCE mission.”

The search, according to the website, was carried out in order to find possible unexploded ordnance following the shelling of the city during the war.

The OSCE mission evacuated its Tskhinvali office on August 8.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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