Vienna, 21 November 2008 Press release

Plassnik: "The basis of dialogue and confidence should now be consolidated step by step"

Foreign Minister on Geneva talks on security and stability in the southern Caucasus

Vienna, 21 November 2008 - "The resumption of dialogue between Georgia and Russia, and the agreement on the continuation of talks in mid-December are encouraging. It is important that the parties to the conflict talked directly to each other for the first time since the hostilities in August, and have found a common framework for further negotiations," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, commenting on a successful round of talks held in Geneva on security and stability in the southern Caucasus.

"This proves that progress can be achieved through persistent multilateral diplomacy, even when the initial conditions are difficult. Indeed, the international community is pursuing quite innovative strategies in forming a strong multilateral network," claimed Plassnik, referring to the Geneva talks jointly chaired by the EU, UN and the OSCE.

"It is now imperative that we remain actively committed to strengthening and consolidating the basis of dialogue, step by step. The prospects of actual progress will only open up through serious and comprehensive dialogue. No partner in the region has any interest in seeing this conflict become petrified and in rendering the Caucasus a zone of permanent instability," affirmed the Foreign Minister. "It is especially important that tangible results are also obtained for the people concerned. The southern Caucasus will only enjoy the possibility of stabilisation if a sustainable solution is found to the problem of refugees and displaced persons, and if they get the opportunity to return to their homes and live there in peace and security," asserted Plassnik.

"The positive momentum must be leveraged. Now the time has come to overcome mutual accusations as regards the causes of this conflict, and further consolidate the common basis of trust. Austria has therefore repeatedly called for the establishment of an international fact-finding commission. I hope it will be set up soon," concluded Plassnik.

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