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23 Sep, 2008 11:14

Council of Europe to investigate S. Ossetia crisis

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has called on Russia to set up a commission to investigate events in South Ossetia. The group is in the Russian capital to assess the two countries' diplomacy, following the recent war in South Ossetia.

The delegation met with Russian Deputies at the State Duma on Tuesday morning, and will later head to Tbilisi, and then to South Ossetia. Moscow is just the first stop on their way. 

Russian officials suggested they go to South Ossetia’s capital Tskhinval from Russia.

“Alas, the PACE leadership chose to politicise the trip instead of spending more time on work in the region,” Konstantin Kosachev, head of Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

Since Russia cancelled direct flights to Tbilisi, the PACE delegates will go to Munich first, then to Tbilisi and only after that to South Ossetia’s capital.

Indeed, for PACE it was a political decision. After Russia recognised South Ossetia as a sovereign state, the delegates want to show they consider it a part of Georgia.

The goal of the delegates is formulated as “to get to know the truth”.

The truth is South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been de-facto independent for years. The head of the PACE delegation Luc Van den Brande admitted that the war history didn’t start on August 7.

PACE set up a committee to conduct an investigation into the events in August. Russian officials hope to see a fair assessment.

As Konstantin Kosachev noted, the majority of people in the group are not biased and they are open for facts.

“At the same time there are those out of the nine delegates, who have a pro-Georgian position, and one of them even signed the notorious resolution to divest the Russian delegation in PACE of their authority,” State Duma representative said.

This initiative was proposed on September 12 and signed by 24 members out of 636.

But it turns out it wasn’t directed at Russia alone, but also at Georgia. 

“The factually correct position is that it would be possible next week to challenge the credentials of both Russia and Georgia,” said David Wilshire from PACE.

Anyway, such an outcome is unlikely, according to Luc Van den Brande, as he noted that the majority of PACE members would be against suspending Russia's mandate in the organisation and in favour of having a dialogue with the country.

Moscow and Tbilisi are in a deadlock over the interpretation of a six-point cease fire plan agreed by Medvedev and Sarkozy. It seems the parties are lost in translation and interpretation of the terms.

“I think that some people who were making up those treaties are not fully interested in making those treaties sealed because they still hope to gain something from further diplomatic games, which we actually witness now,” political analyst Kirill Bessonov believes.

The delegates will prepare a report for the PACE session on the results of the visit. It will be presented to the Council of Europe next week.

Some analysts say it’s not about whether the report will be fair but how media will spin it.

According to Bessonov, the report could be unbiased, but media in some countries could take parts and pieces of it to make up the report to their own views, trying to influence the international public opinion.

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