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At Parliamentary Assembly, Georgian Leaders Call for OSCE Reform
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 1 Jul.'16 / 17:39

At an opening session of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s annual meeting, Georgian leadership stressed on the need for OSCE’s “transformation” amid growing security challenges in Europe.

Tbilisi is hosting the 25th annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly for the first time on July 1-5. The session is the largest annual gathering of the Assembly, which is the parliamentary dimension of the OSCE with over 320 lawmakers from the organization’s 57 participating states.

PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili told the Assembly on July 1, that OSCE has a flawed decision-making mechanism and Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili spoke of the need to make OSCE “more efficient” in tackling security threats. 
“Unfortunately, in terms of European security the existing reality is extremely grave. Fundamental principles of European security have been endangered as a result of recent developments in the region,” the Georgian PM said.

“For the first time since the Second World War, we are facing an attempt to change the borders of a European state with use of force,” he said.

“OSCE’s efforts are actually paralyzed due to imperfect decision-making mechanism,” the Georgian PM continued. “A paradoxical situation is created when despite widespread objections and protests, practical steps cannot be taken.”

“It is also relevant to the situation in Georgia. Despite the conflicts on our territory, there is no OSCE mission in Georgia anymore. This is absolutely unacceptable situation,” PM Kvirikashvili said.

The OSCE mission had to end its operation in Georgia in June, 2009 after a failure to agree on its mandate following Russia’s recognition of Georgia’s breakaway regions. At the time Russia rejected a proposal, which was based on the so called “status-neutral” formula making no mention of Georgia or its breakaway regions in the mission’s mandate in order to avoid dispute over the status.

“In addition, the OSCE space, in particular the South Caucasus region has been left without international mechanisms of conventional arms control. As a result, we have uncontrolled growth in arms in the South Caucasus,” the Georgian PM said, referring to Russia’s withdraw from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE).

“It will be possible to stabilize the situation and avoid further escalation only through use of all the international mechanisms, including OSCE’s active involvement. For this to happen, the organization needs immediate and effective transformation,” the Georgian PM said.

Georgian Parliament Speaker, Davit Usupashvili, told the Assembly that existing security challenges highlight “the need for transformation of OSCE to make it more efficient in tackling growing lack of security and cooperation.”

“For instance, Georgia’s case prompts us to think so,” Usupashvili said. “In August, 2008 the OSCE not only failed to prevent Russia’s military aggression against Georgia, but it itself became expelled from the Georgian territory. Ethnic cleansing of Georgians on the territory of South Ossetia was then also followed by cleansing of the OSCE mission from Tbilisi. That gives a reason to think about the necessary transformation of the organization. We will be glad if the Georgian case will serve as an example for the need to move forward towards establishing new standards.”
In his address, the Georgian Parliament Speaker also spoke out against trend of “isolationism”.

“Those who try to tackle globalized problems through isolationism or through alternative models of civilization are wrong. By doing so we will be left alone without partners, face-to-face with global threats and consequently we will be defeated,” Usupashvili said.

“I am telling this to our British colleagues for one reason and to our Russian colleagues too for a completely different reason,” he added. “We should tackle all the threats together through cooperation; anything else will be a shorter path towards defeat.”

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said in his address to the Assembly that Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain occupied and separated from rest of the country by “dividing lines, which do not allow our citizen to move freely.”

Speaking on Russia, PM Kvirikashvili said that the Georgian government has been trying since late 2012 “de-escalate and normalize” relations with Moscow, which led to restoration of trade ties.

“We are ready to continue this course and dialogue with Russia,” the Georgian PM said. “Despite of such pragmatic approach, regrettably, we are facing serious threats along the occupation line with Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region – artificial barriers are being erected and militarization of the occupied regions is underway, which makes people far apart from each other and has negative effect on the prospects for peaceful solution of the conflicts.”

“Georgia has unilaterally undertaken non-use of force commitment and we are still waiting for Russia to reciprocate; Russia should fulfill its international obligations, including the August, 2008 ceasefire agreement,” the PM told the Assembly also including a delegation from Russia.

Among the issue the Assembly is expected to debate during its annual session in Tbilisi are draft resolutions on Ukraine, fundamental freedoms in Crimea, conflicts in Georgia, transnational terrorism, climate change, the fight against corruption, and the rights of refugees.

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