Saturday, August 23, 2008

Meeting with the OSCE Chairman-in-Office

On 22 August 2008, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eka Tkeshelashvili and State Minister for Reintegration Issues Temur Iakobashvili held a meeting with OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland Alexander Stubb.

The sides discussed the situation consequent to the Russian Federation’s intervention in Georgia and the issues related to implementation of the ceasefire agreement signed through the mediation of the President of France.

The sides also discussed prospects for elaboration of an international peace format aimed at resolution of the conflicts in Georgia and immediate steps to be taken shortly afterwards. The Finnish Foreign Minister stated that the assignment of an additional contingent of OSCE monitors to Georgia is an initial step for developing a new international peace mechanism.

The sides agreed to continue active cooperation on the issues of priority.

Following the meeting, the Georgian and Finnish Foreign Ministers held a joint press conference:

Press conference transcript:

Mrs. Eka Tkeshelashvili:

Greetings! I’d like to brief you on main aspects of our meeting.

As far as you know twenty OSCE monitors will shortly arrive in Georgia to assess the extent to which the Russian side complies with its commitments under the ceasefire agreement. It is the beginning of the process. OSCE plans to increase the number of monitors soon and extend the scope of their activity. We therefore discussed the ways in which this mission should be carried out and the area that needs to be covered by monitors and international observers. We also focused on the role the European Union should play in resolving the existing crisis.

Today we are faced with two tasks. The first task is a short-term one and envisages ensuring full compliance with the ceasefire agreement, which means that the Russian side should not be allowed to interpret this agreement wrongly and unilaterally and continue, based on its own discretionary decisions, deploying Russian troops on the territory of Georgia. We are also seriously focused on the second stage of the process, which will ensue after reaching compliance with the ceasefire agreement and de-escalation of the situation. This second stage envisages achieving restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity through international peaceful mechanisms and full protection of human rights throughout the entire territory of Georgia, which will prevent further emergence of such ‘uncontrolled places’ where human rights violations will run rife and criminal regimes will become a functioning reality. It must forever become a past chapter of Georgian history. The population on the territory of Georgia whatever their ethnic origin should be allowed the opportunity to benefit from the rule of law, democracy, absolute protection of human rights, they should consider themselves members of a European country and enjoy all the benefits of being citizens of a European country.

I would like to thank once again our guest for his personal and active involvement in the problem resolving process both in the capacity as OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Finnish Foreign Minister. Let me give him the floor.

Mr. Alexander Stubb:

Thank you very much.

I would like to stress three points. Point number one is about our operation of military monitors. So far things run very smoothly. We will able to bring in totally twenty monitors by this weekend, including seven so called APCs, armored vehicles with contributions from many OSCE countries. I think they will have calming effect on the ceasefire. And I think this very important element in providing us with objective information. It is very important that with the leadership of Colonel Lieutenant Steven Yang we can get this operation up and running. And that is what we are doing together with the head of the mission Terhi Hakala. So, point number one the operation of military observance is running smoothly.

Point number two. I still think that the ceasefire agreement is fragile, that is why we must focus all of our efforts to the withdrawal of the troops and to return to normalcy. I think the military monitors will play a very important role in this. But remember we must now focus on the withdrawal of troops. We hope that this process takes place smoothly.

Point number three. I think it is time for us in the international community not to start thinking of true international assessment of this conflict. We need to start reflecting upon how we arrange the future of stabilization of the region, how and what form of peacekeepers, international peacekeepers will be brought in, how do we get the political process going, will we have a high representative for the region, what is the long-term prospective. Because, all of us are involved in these processes from the beginning, we are in this process from the long run. So, that’s why we must start thinking of how all of us, the international community, the USA, the EU, the UN, the OSCE, Russia can solve this conflict and stabilize the region.

So, these are three main points that I wanted to stress. Thank you.