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OSCE Envoy Wants Regular Trips To Abkhazia, South Ossetia

Bolat Nurgaliev, the OSCE's special envoy for protracted conflicts

Bolat Nurgaliev, the OSCE's special envoy for protracted conflicts

TBILISI (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) special envoy for conflict regions says he wants to establish regular OSCE visits to Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, RFE/RL's Echo of the Caucasus reports.

Bolat Nurgaliev, the OSCE's special envoy for protracted conflicts, told RFE/RL in Tbilisi on February 17 that such visits could be the first step towards reestablishing an OSCE presence in Georgia and its conflict areas.

The OSCE office in Tbilisi and its field office in South Ossetia were closed following the Russian-Georgian conflict in August 2008.

He added that the OSCE's Conflict Prevention Center in Vienna would play a crucial role in planning the new visits.

Nurgaliev said "talks are being held with all conflicting sides in order to outline the ways [in which] the presence could satisfy all sides."

He said the OSCE has a preliminary agreement with Georgian authorities about making such visits and that he will meet with Abkhaz and South Ossetian
officials in March in Sukhumi and Tskhinvali, respectively.

Nurgaliev said the OSCE cannot be "an effective cochairman of talks in Geneva regarding Georgia's conflict regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia" without maintaining a presence in Tbilisi and the breakaway regions.

After the conflict between Georgian and Russian forces in South Ossetia, Tskhinvali officials refused to allow OSCE military observers to enter the
breakaway territory.