The United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) may have to reassess their roles on the ground following this summer’s fighting between Russia and Georgia, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
“Recent events in your region have riveted the world’s attention and challenged existing arrangements for peace and security,” he told the 16th OSCE Ministerial Council in a message delivered by his Special Representative for Georgia Johan Verbeke in Helsinki.
“Indeed, following the tragic fighting in Georgia and the South Caucasus in August, and in light of persistent instability in the area, we may have to re-think our respective roles on the ground. The conflict also demonstrated that the lack of a meaningful political process over an extended period of time can lead to conflict. This lesson should be borne in mind when considering all protracted conflicts in the OSCE area.”
Calling for the “utmost” efforts to ensure the success of the Geneva International Discussions on Georgia, Mr. Ban said all sides must turn their immediate attention to “the most pressing short-term problems: security and the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).”
He noted UN-OSCE cooperation during the past year to shore up peace and stability in other areas such as Kosovo, Afghanistan and Central Asia.
“Our cooperation also extends to human rights, including the human rights aspects of electoral processes and conflict and post-conflict situations,” he said. “We are working hard to prevent statelessness in South-Eastern Europe and to strengthen border management capacities in Central Asia.”
Not least, he stressed, the UN attaches great importance to common efforts to address environmental concerns in the OSCE region, in particular regarding climate change.