Continued OSCE presence in Georgia is important for Tbilisi, but “of course not at any price,” Grigol Vashadze, the Georgian foreign minister, said on January 26.
“We have our red lines, which we will not cross,” he said at a news conference in Tbilisi. “We will not do anything that may give at least a bit of legitimization of puppet regimes set up by the occupying force [in Abkhazia and South Ossetia].”
He also said that OSCE Greek chairmanship was continuing its efforts to find “a formula acceptable for all the participating states to help maintain OSCE presence.”
In December Russia has blocked extension of the 16-year-old OSCE mission’s mandate in Georgia. Russia wants a separate, independent OSCE mission in Tskhinvali and it refuses to accept any linkage between the OSCE activities in South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia, because Moscow has recognized the independence of the breakaway region.
Dora Bakoyannis, the Greek Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office of Greece, said after talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow on January 21, that Greece had offered new set of proposals on continued OSCE presence in Georgia, which did not cross “red lines” of any parties involved.
Sergey Lavrov said at the joint news conference that these proposals were “directed towards realistic direction” and added that Russia was ready “to work in this direction.” He also said that the proposals take into account de facto and de jure realities created on the ground after the August war.
Last December, Finland in its capacity of the OSCE chairmanship, proposed a package deal, which included parallel, mutually independent field offices in Tbilisi and in Tskhinvali. The field offices would have been directed by a Special Representative of the OSCE chairmanship having headquarters in Vienna, according to that proposal, which was rejected by Russia.