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OSCE To Scale Down, Close Balkan Missions

18 October 2004 -- The chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said today that the organization will reduce or close its missions in the Balkans, due to the improved security situation in the region.

Solomon Pasi, Bulgaria's foreign minister and this year's OSCE chairman, said the pan-European human rights body completed its mission in the Balkans and should focus on other regions.

"After the intensive and fruitful job that the OSCE, in cooperation with the international community, has done in the Balkans, I think it's time for the OSCE to consider a reduction of its mission in the Balkans and redirect its potential to other regions within the OSCE sphere," Pasi said.

Pasi, speaking to reporters in Macedonia's capital Skopje, said OSCE's interest "now is on other regions."

Pasi said the first OSCE missions to be closed are those in Macedonia and Croatia, with the office in Serbia and Montenegro to follow.

Pasi arrived in Skopje today on the first stop of a Balkan tour that will also include Serbia and Montenegro and its ethnically tense province of Kosovo.