Watch part two of this OSCE mission-produced short documentary here
OSCE Mission in Georgia wrapped-up its operations in Georgia on June 30 – seventeen years after it was established with an initial mandate to facilitate settlement of the South Ossetian conflict.
OSCE had eight unarmed military monitors stationed in Tskhinvali who were in charge of monitoring of, and reporting on the ceasefire in the South Ossetian conflict zone. They were pulled out from Tskhinvali after the hostilities resumed in the region last August.
Shortly after the war, OSCE, including Russia, agreed on August 19 to send 20 monitors to observe the situation in the areas adjacent to South Ossetia with no right to enter inside the breakaway region.
The September 8 ceasefire accord, which is a supplementary document to the August 12 six-point ceasefire agreement, mediated by the French President, envisaged allowing OSCE monitors to continue operations inside South Ossetia as it was before the August war “without prejudice to possible corrections” to the mandate in future.
Finland, which at that time held the OSCE’s rotating chairmanship, tried to negotiate a deal on the new mandate, but Russia blocked the extension of the mission’s mandate, which expired in December, 2008. Moscow it wanted the new mandate to reflect post-August war “new realities” in the region, in particular Russia’s recognition of the breakaway region’s independence – something which, according to the Georgian officials, would have amounted to crossing of Tbilisi’s “red lines.”
The mission continued to operate with 20 of its observers having the mandate to monitor situation in the areas adjacent to South Ossetian administrative border till June 30.
In May Russia also rejected a proposal by the OSCE Greek chairmanship, which was based on the so called “status-neutral” formula.
A Brussels-based think tank, International Crisis Group (ICG) said last week that violent incidents and the lack of an effective security regime in and around South Ossetia and Abkhazia create “a dangerous atmosphere in which extensive fighting could again erupt.”
Asked about the warning, head of the OSCE Mission in Georgia, Finnish diplomat Terhi Hakala told Reuters: “Unfortunately I think it is possible. I share the analysis of the ICG… The situation is unstable. The security situation is a bit better but it is not good definitely.”
UN has also started pulling of its unarmed military observers out from Georgia, which have been monitoring situation on the both side of the Abkhaz administrative border for up to sixteen years. Russia blocked the extension of UN mission’s mandate for the same reasons as in case of OSCE.
EU Monitoring Mission’s (EUMM) 246 unarmed observers now remain on the ground. They, however, are not able to access into the breakaway regions.