The Cold Peace
By Ralf Beste, Uwe Klussmann and Gabor Steingart
Meanwhile, various ministries in Berlin have started to doubt the credibility of the most problematic friend of the West. Saakashvili, contrary to his own version of events, apparently ordered the attack on South Ossetia before the Russian tanks entered the province from the north via the Roki Tunnel.
'Carelessly Playing with Fire'
This was reported by military observers working with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) who were in Georgia at the time. Information from tapped phone conversations involving Georgian political leaders may have also made its way into the reports, which have been leaked from OSCE headquarters in Vienna. One source who is personally familiar with the reports summarized the findings as follows: “Saakashvili lied 100 percent to all of us, the Europeans and the Americans.”
Just last week, the Georgian president told Germany’s mass-circulation Bild newspaper: “We respected the cease-fire. It wasn’t until the Russian tanks rolled into South Ossetia that we deployed our artillery.” The OSCE reports also indicate that Saakashvili attacked the civilian population while they were asleep in their beds. That could be tantamount to a war crime. “Our dialogue with Georgia has to become more critical again,” says a top Western diplomat.
Chairman of OSCE's Permanent Council underscores transparency of Organization's activity in Georgia
VIENNA, 4 September 2008 - The Chairman of the OSCE Permanent Council, Ambassador Antti Turunen, underscored today that the Organization had distributed all spot reports submitted by its Mission to Georgia on the recent Georgia-Russia conflict to all 56 OSCE participating States.
"All the information that we have received, you have received," Turunen, who is the Finnish Ambassador to the OSCE, told the Permanent Council, referring to spot reports which are compiled by OSCE field missions and sent to all OSCE delegations.
"As you know, there is nothing in the reports of the monitors that would corroborate the report in Der Spiegel," he said, referring to a story in the latest issue of the German news magazine.
Turunen said the Finnish Chairmanship was urging other participating States to help reach swift consensus on modalities for the deployment of 80 additional monitoring officers. The OSCE already agreed to send 20 and most of this first contingent are already deployed.
The Permanent Council, one of the main regular decision-making bodies of the Organization, convenes weekly in Vienna to discuss developments in the OSCE area and to make appropriate decisions.
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia finds it necessary to make its comment regarding an article published in the last week’s issue of German magazine ‘Der Spiegel’ claiming that the OSCE Mission in Georgia released a report on the acts of aggression committed by the Georgian side in the Tskhinvali region and this report was not submitted to all member states of OSCE. Immediately after the publication of this article respective OSCE agencies stated unequivocally that all kinds of reports prepared regularly by the OSCE Mission in Georgia are sent immediately and without exception to all members states of OSCE and none of the Mission’s reports contains information similar to that indicated by ‘Der Spiegel’.
The Georgian side was convinced that the misunderstanding was only a matter of the use of unverified information by the media agency and the issue would be closed shortly after OSCE’s respective clarifications.
It is regrettable, however, that a week after resolving this misunderstanding, the Russian side artificially brought forward the issue again and started to speak about certain ‘investigations’.
It points to a worrisome fact that the Russian side in order to justify its large-scale aggression against Georgia, occupation of Georgian territories and ethnic cleansing of ethnic Georgians, tries to shift the blame for the crimes committed by Russian troops in the Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia as well as on other parts of the Georgian Territory to Georgia by any means, including by invoking non-existing ‘reports’ of the OSCE Mission in Georgia and manipulating over this issue.
It needs to be emphasized that at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council held on 4 September the OSCE Chairmanship made it clear once again that the information published by ‘Der Spiegel’ does not correspond to the reality.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia strictly condemns the Russian Federation’s yet another attempt to involve the international community in its manipulations and calls on the Russian side to refrain from the use of similar cheap maneuvers in the future.
Tbilisi, 5 September 2008