Georgia has expressed outrage over an OSCE decision to withdraw observers from South Ossetia. The current OSCE mission will expire on Dec. 31 though Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb (pictured) has called for an extension.
AFP - Georgia Monday reacted furiously to a decision by the OSCE to wrap up an observer mission in a rebel region, saying Russia had obstructed the work of monitors to hide "war crimes".
"Russia is trying to block the OSCE monitoring exercise in South Ossetia because it committed war crimes there, including ethnic cleansing of the the Georgian population," Georgia's minister for reintegration, Temur Lakobashvili, told AFP.
"The Kremlin is desperately trying to bring legitimacy to its proxy regimes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and international organisations are not allowing it to do so."
The Finnish presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Monday that the agency would pull its observers out of Georgia on January 1, after Russia objected to a plan to extend its mission by three months.
The mandate of the observer mission formally ends on December 31 but the OSCE head, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, sought backing Friday from the body's 56 members states for a three-month extension.
The pan European security body has 180 people in Georgia, including 28 unarmed observers monitoring the ceasefire near South Ossetia.
Special dispensation for 20 OSCE personnel to remain in Georgia -- but outside South Ossetia -- until February 19 had not been affected by Monday's announcement.
Russia sent troops into Georgia in early August to repel a Georgian military attempt to retake South Ossetia, which had received extensive backing from Moscow for years.
Russian forces later withdrew to within South Ossetia and another rebel region, Abkhazia, which Moscow simultaneously recognised as independent states.
Date created : 2008-12-22