Vienna, 15 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- An OSCE spokesman in Vienna said on 15 April the new program is not a replacement for the international force of OSCE monitors who previously patrolled Georgia’s borders with Chechnya, Daghestan and Ingushetia.
That program ended following a Russian veto at the end of 2004. Russia argued the monitors were ineffective. It has opposed suggestions from some countries that the European Union could replace the OSCE monitors.
By contrast, Russia voted in favor of the new training program.
An OSCE spokesman, Keith Jinks, said the new OSCE project is only a program to train border guards – not monitors. He did not know which borders the guards would patrol.
“It is up to the Georgians [to decide] what to do with them -- where they are going to deploy them," Jinks said. "I mean, they have lots of borders -- not just the one with the Russian Federation. They've also got sensitive borders on three sides."
OSCE said the new training program for the Georgian Border Guards service is expected to cost 2.6 million euros ($3.4 million). NATO diplomats told RFE/RL most of the money is coming from voluntary donations and not from the OSCE budget.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the OSCE cannot afford to finance such a program on its own because of Russia's refusal to endorse this year's OSCE budget.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the OSCE cannot afford to finance such a program on its own because of Russia's refusal to endorse this year's OSCE budget. The organization has been operating on an emergency budget since the beginning of the year.
OSCE officials did not identify the source of the funds for the border guards project. Other diplomats simply said the money came from other countries which feel the project is worth supporting.
OSCE officials said the training team would have about 30 international experts supported by about 20 local staff. They will use of some of the equipment belonging to the former OSCE border-monitoring operation.
OSCE spokesman Jinks said it is a very practical program.
"What we are doing here is training them and bringing them up to professional standards," Jinks said.
He said the program will include training in rescue operations in mountainous areas; patrolling techniques; observation methods; advance communications; and instruction in the legal aspects of border policing.
In March, Russia objected to a previous OSCE proposal to train the border guards because the training was to take place in Georgia. Russia wanted them trained in other countries.
NATO diplomats told RFE/RL that Russia apparently changed its position at a meeting with U.S. officials in Moscow on 6 April during a discussion of the Russian blockade of the OSCE budged. No details of those talks have been released.