OSCE hopes to support conflict resolution, peacebuilding in Georgia

Austrian Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman Sebastian Kurz says "we should try to improve the lives of ordinary people". Photo by MFA Georgia
Agenda.ge, 03 Feb 2017 - 15:32, Tbilisi,Georgia

Austrian Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman Sebastian Kurz has congratulated the Georgian people on yesterday’s historic vote to allow for visa-free travel to the Schengen Area.

As the representative of a European Union (EU) member state, I welcome this important step forward”, Kurz said during his official visit to Georgia.

With 553 votes in favour, 66 against and 28 abstaining, the European Parliament (EP) approved visa-free travel for Georgian citizens to most countries of the EU at a plenary session yesterday.

Meeting with Georgia’s Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze today Kurz said Georgia is now following a path which will strengthen and deepen Georgia-EU relations.

We very much appreciate the strong and consecutive support of the Government of Austria towards Georgia’s territorial integrity and its Euro-integration process”, Minister Janelidze said.

Minister Janelidze thanked his Austrian counterpart for giving priority to Georgian issues on the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) agenda.

Discussing how OSCE could influence the peaceful regulation of the Georgia-Russian conflict, the ministers spoke about security, human rights and humanitarian problems that people are facing on the both sides of the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL).

Kurz believes Georgia should strengthen cooperation not only with the EU but with Russia as well to stand strong against the threat from radicalism and terrorism and contribute to building trust among the people.

We should try to improve the lives of ordinary people”, Kurz said.

Kurz also believes the opening of an Austrian Embassy in Tbilisi last September will positively reflect on Georgian-Austrian cooperation in various areas including business.

Taking over the OSCE Chairmanship at the beginning of this year, Kurz said the organization could "provide all necessary tools for promoting de-escalation and enabling sustainable political solutions to the conflicts in the OSCE area”.

Later today Kurz visited Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) in the village of Ergneti, near Georgia's breakaway region of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia), where the regular meetings of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) take place. He also met with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in one of the nearby IDP settlements.

The IPRM was created in February 2009 as a result of the Geneva Discussions that followed the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict in Georgia. The meetings were an opportunity to identify and discuss potential risks and follow-up of incidents and issues affecting the communities on a daily basis. The meetings were co-facilitated by the OSCE and the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Georgia.