Vienna, 22 December 2008 Press release

Spindelegger on OSCE in Georgia: "The Russian veto is a clear step backwards"

Foreign Minister on the temporary closure of the OSCE mission in Georgia

Vienna, 22 December 2008 – "The Russian veto against an extension of the OSCE mission is extremely regrettable. Following the encouraging resumption of the dialogue between Russia and Georgia in Geneva, this is a clear step backwards and a bitter disappointment", said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger today in a reaction to the refusal of Moscow to agree to an extension of the mission beyond 31 December 2008 - despite intensive efforts by the Finnish Presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to find a compromise solution. "The forced withdrawal of the OSCE mission is not conducive to the stability in the region. However, Russia in particular would not benefit from this. I would have expected a greater degree of pragmatism and flexibility."

Spindelegger added that "from an Austrian point of view, continued OSCE presence in Georgia remains a clear objective. In this context, we hope that under next year's Greek OSCE Presidency, a compromise can be found regarding the future role of OSCE in Georgia".

Some 200 mission members, among them five Austrians, must now begin preparations to abandon their activities. This, however, will not have any impact on the EU Observer Mission. The extension of the UN Mission in Abkhazia (UNOMIG) is scheduled for 2009.

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