08TBILISI2492, IMPACT OF CLOSING THE OSCE MISSION TO GEORGIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2492 2008-12-30 14:28 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7095
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2492/01 3651428
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301428Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 2230
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0636
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0157
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4750
RUEHUNV/UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 3984

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 002492 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/30/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM MOPS EAID ECON SNAR KBTS RU GG
SUBJECT: IMPACT OF CLOSING THE OSCE MISSION TO GEORGIA 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and comment.  The OSCE Mission to Georgia 
offers the international community several unique tools in 
monitoring and facilitating Georgia's democratic, secure and 
prosperous development.  As a monitoring mission, it provides 
information on the situation on the ground, with a special 
emphasis on security around South Ossetia; as a program 
implementer, it offers direct assistance in such important 
areas as human rights, economic development and law 
enforcement; as a policy adviser, it represents the 
collective wisdom of 56 member states.  The breadth of the 
organization's membership, combined with the breadth of the 
mission's activities, lends the OSCE's voice special force. 
Some of the OSCE's programs in Georgia are stronger than 
others, and the OSCE lost a significant portion of its 
value-added when it lost access to South Ossetia after the 
August war.  Even so, the military monitors, with their 
extensive experience and contacts, are an important resource 
even without that access; their loss could increase 
instability around South Ossetia.  The EU Monitoring Mission 
should eventually take up the slack, if it remains.  The OSCE 
has played a key role in facilitating Georgia's European 
integration, and some other mission will need to take up that 
role.  In general, other missions should be able to cover the 
major gaps left by the OSCE closure, but the process will 
take time.  The OSCE's frequent role as coordinator will be 
especially missed; the closure will complicate the 
international community's efforts to work together to assist 
Georgia and the region's peacefully and democratic 
development.  Perhaps most importantly, however, in the 
current atmosphere of high tension between Georgia and 
Russia, the loss of OSCE will remove an important mediating 
voice and possibly increase the likelihood of direct 
confrontation between the two.  Ultimately, with its access 
to South Ossetia blocked, preserving the OSCE's mission in 
Georgia is not worth sacrificing any fundamental U.S. 
principles -- but losing it will complicate our work in 
Georgia, and that of the international community, especially 
in the short term.  End summary and comment. 
 
THE MILITARY MONITORS 
 
2. (SBU) The highest-profile element of the OSCE in Georgia 
is the military monitoring mission, which has been in place 
since 1992.  Although the mission's mandate covers the entire 
country of Georgia, in practice it focuses on the situation 
around South Ossetia.  The personnel are true military 
monitors, with the appropriate background and focus.  Despite 
its small size -- 28 monitors, plus a supervisor -- the 
mission's extensive experience and contacts allow it not only 
to stay well informed, but also to deter destabilizing 
actions and promote dialogue.  The mission had an office in 
Tskhinvali until the August war; although it has not enjoyed 
regular access to South Ossetia since, it still maintains 
regular contacts, especially on the working level, with both 
Russian and Ossetian forces.  A Georgian police officer 
stationed just outside South Ossetia recently told an OSCE 
monitor he was worried about what would happen when the OSCE 
left.  The December 10 direct attack on an OSCE patrol's 
Qleft.  The December 10 direct attack on an OSCE patrol's 
vehicle could well demonstrate the threat some of the 
troublemakers perceive from the OSCE (see septel). 
 
3. (SBU) While monitoring the military situation, the OSCE 
mission also gather important information on other on the 
ground issues, such as the current status of internally 
displaced persons (IDPs).  The OSCE then shares that 
information with other interested parties, as well as uses it 
in the implementation of its own programs and its message to 
the government.  It can thereby maintain a regular focus on 
the immediate, medium- and long-term impact of the conflict 
and provide input into the search for solutions at all levels. 
 
4. (C) The only entity that can cover the loss of the OSCE 
military monitors is the recently established EU Monitoring 
Mission (EUMM), but post expects a considerable gap in 
coverage will be left.  The EUMM is larger than the OSCE, 
with around 100 monitors covering South Ossetia, and it has 
made impressive progress since its establishment in October 
2008.  Nevertheless, the office has not built up the 
institutional knowledge of the area that the OSCE has.  More 
importantly, it has not yet managed -- despite high-level 
efforts in Moscow and Geneva -- to est
ablish any reliable 
contacts with either the Russians or the Ossetians.  Post has 
found that, despite its smaller size, OSCE consistently 
obtains more information more quickly than the EUMM.  It is 
 
TBILISI 00002492  002 OF 003 
 
 
unclear whether the EUMM, in which Russia has no direct 
voice, will ever be able to develop the same level of 
ground-level cooperation with the Russians or the Ossetians. 
It is noteworthy that, although Russia at least acknowledged 
the OSCE's theoretical right to enter South Ossetia after the 
war (while doing nothing to facilitate actual entry), it has 
never recognized the EUMM's right to access.  In addition, 
while the U.S. has a direct vote in OSCE decisions in Vienna, 
we do not have similar authority to influence EUMM actions. 
 
5. (C) On an informal level, the OSCE has also been more 
directly helpful and cooperative with the USG.  Although post 
speaks daily with both the OSCE and the EUMM, the OSCE is 
consistently better informed and more responsive.  This 
difference can be explained to some extent by the OSCE's 
superior experience and contacts, but also by the EUMM's 
cumbersome bureaucratic structures.  Bilateral missions from 
EU members states in Tbilisi are not entitled to see written 
EUMM reports until they are cleared in Brussels, for example. 
 Some members of the EUMM have in fact suggested that the 
U.S. Embassy should not expect daily phone updates.  If the 
OSCE mission closes, the USG will likely need to work with 
the EUMM, and possibly the EU itself, to improve the flow of 
information.  It will also be necessary to ensure the EUMM 
itself remains; many observers expect Russia eventually to 
exert pressure to close it as well. 
 
DEMOCRACY BUILDING AND HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION 
 
6. (SBU) On human dimension issues, the OSCE fills a niche 
that no other single organizations may fit.  The voice of 56 
member states carries an authority on democratization and 
human rights protection that no single country, including the 
U.S., can hope to have.  Furthermore, the OSCE represents a 
wider range of perspectives than the EU, but is less unwieldy 
than either the EU or the UN.  Its Human Dimension Office 
therefore plays a key role in facilitating Georgia's European 
integration efforts by helping the government meet both OSCE 
and Council of Europe requirements.  In both of these 
processes, the OSCE office, which has greater resources than 
the EU's mission to Georgia, often acts as the key organizer 
and coordinator, providing staff, facilities and other 
resources.  As Georgia works toward European integration, the 
EU will probably have to increase its engagement, and 
possibly its presence on the ground, to make up for the loss 
of the OSCE. 
 
7. (SBU) The closure of the OSCE would not necessarily mean 
all its current roles would go unfilled.  Other organizations 
do engage in similar activities.  Individual EU missions, for 
example, or UNDP could carry out specific roles and functions 
the OSCE currently does.  Local and international NGOs, such 
as the International Republican Institute, National 
Democratic Institute, Georgian Young Lawyers Association, 
Penal Reform International, and Norwegian Rule of Law 
Advisors to Georgia could continue their efforts to support 
elections organization, trial monitoring, improvement of 
prison conditions, and other human rights programs.  Post 
typically consults the OSCE on human rights issues for its 
own reporting, so we would also likely have to rely more on 
contacts in these and other organizations. 
Qcontacts in these and other organizations. 
 
8. (SBU) Nevertheless, because of the breadth of its 
involvement, the closure of the OSCE mission will likely 
leave some significant gaps that will take time to fill.  On 
democracy and good governance issues, for example, the OSCE 
currently coordinates the Ambassadors Working Group, a forum 
for exchanging perspectives on election and democratic 
development among member nations in Georgia.  While another 
group could easily take on organization of such a group, it 
will take time.  Additional OSCE initiatives include: 
promoting political awareness, education, and involvement 
among Georgian academic and governmental circles; structural 
and political development assistance to Parliament (similar 
to our House Democracy Assistance Committee); technical 
support and facilitation for political parties, including 
opposition parties; election assistance to the government and 
its Central Election Commission; international monitoring of 
elections through ODIHR; and assisting Parliament with the 
reform of Georgia's Electoral Code. 
 
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 
 
9. (SBU) The OSCE established the Economic Rehabilitation 
Program not only to develop the economy in and near South 
Ossetia, but also to build confidence and ultimately promote 
 
TBILISI 00002492  003 OF 003 
 
 
the peaceful resolution of the conflict.  With its unique 
access to both Government of Georgia and de facto officials 
and areas inside South Ossetia, the OSCE was well placed to 
pursue this kind of program; the EUMM and UNOMIG, as more 
narrowly defined monitoring missions, do not have the mandate 
to do so.  Since losing access to South Ossetia, the OSCE has 
proposed continuing the small business development program in 
the region of Shida Kartli south of South Ossetia.  The 
program is still worthwhile; the region is in great eed of 
economic development, and many of the beneficiaries are IDPs. 
 Furthermore, if the OSCE were to regain access to South 
Ossetia, it would once again be in a position to combine 
economic engagement with confidence building in a unique way. 
 If the OSCE fails to regain that access and unique role, 
however, it has no comparative advantage as an implementer of 
economic programs in the rest of Georgia. 
 
LAW ENFORCEMENT AND BORDER PROTECTION 
 
10. (SBU) The USG is by far the largest provider of 
assistance in these areas, but the OSCE is second, with all 
other donors sponsoring much smaller programs.  The OSCE 
therefore provides a useful, multilateral second perspective 
on the issues.  Like in the human dimension, this second 
perspective is especially useful as Georgia works toward 
European integration, because its law enforcement structures 
resemble European models more closely than U.S. ones.  Also, 
the OSCE's long history of working on law enforcement and 
border protection issues has allowed it to build considerable 
expertise in the areas.  Its staff have considerable capacity 
to provide targeted training and other programs locally; it 
is easier for them to find experts with the appropriate 
language skills, for example, than the USG.  In fact, if the 
mission closes, it might even be useful to explore using the 
OSCE or its staff as an implementer for USG programs, if at 
all possible. 
TEFFT

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