OSCE key partner for stability in Georgia, says Foreign Minister

VIENNA, 14 June 2007 - The OSCE is a key partner in creating stability in Georgia, Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili told the Organization's Permanent Council today.

"Among other international organizations, which Georgia is closely co-operating with, the OSCE has a special role in providing international assistance to the reforms being carried out in the country in the fields of promoting democracy, human rights, rule of law, good governance and freedom of expression, as well as the fight against intolerance and discrimination," he said.

"These topics are at the heart of this Organization."

Minister Bezhuashvili lauded the work of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, saying co-operation in the election process had brought improvements to the country.

Speaking about the situation in South Ossetia, he said: "The only path we see to peace in Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia is the same path that we see for all people of Georgia: we must deliver on the promise of individual liberty, economic opportunity, quality of life and human security.

"This approach, I believe, reflects the spirit in which the OSCE was founded."

Minister Bezhuashvili said Georgia was inviting all its partners, including Russia, to engage in a constructive dialogue to resolve the situation.

"We would like to appeal to the OSCE, the EU and our international partners to deliver a firm, convincing message to the Tskhinvali regime - the separatists - that the only way forward is to engage in a constructive, results-oriented dialogue," he said.

He also welcomed the establishment of a movement called "People of South Ossetia for Peace."

"This movement symbolizes the new reality on the ground in the region. It reflects the will of the majority of the population, both Ossetian and Georgian," he said. "The movement in question is willing to engage constructively in the negotiation process to find a viable and durable solution."

He noted that an OSCE Donor Conference in Brussels that raised more than 10 million euros for rehabilitation projects in the zone of conflict and adjacent areas, was held exactly one year ago. He said Georgia had transferred its first installment to the fund and was ready to financially support the fund together with donors.

"Today, we have a truly unique opportunity to create a 'win-win' situation for all stakeholders. We simply cannot afford to let it slip away."