Russia to press for reform of Europe's OSCEin talks with France and Germany

25th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

MOSCOW, Aug 24 (AFP) - Russia wants to reform the 55-member European security watchdog body the OSCE to turn it into a truly effective organ in the interests of all members, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday.

MOSCOW, Aug 24 (AFP) - Russia wants to reform the 55-member European security watchdog body the OSCE to turn it into a truly effective organ in the interests of all members, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday.

President Vladimir Putin hopes to broach the subject in meetings next week with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Lavrov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), whose members include Russia and the United States, is the largest regional security organisation in the world.

With members from Europe, Central Asia and North America, it is active in early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.

Russia was preparing a message to all member-states to propose constructive changes to make the body "truly efficient and conforming to the interests of all," Lavrov was quoted as saying.

Germany and France had treated very seriously a statement last month by the member-states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), linking former Soviet constituent republics, on the "need to return to the first principles of the OSCE," the minister said.

Putin is scheduled to entertain Chirac and Schroeder at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi next week.

The OSCE has in the past been at loggerheads with Russia over Moscow's policy in the separatist southern Russian republic of Chechnya.

Last October the OSCE chairman criticised the lack of choice in presidential elections in Chechnya.

The OSCE pulled its staff out of war-torn Chechnya in December 2002 and Moscow refused to allow it to return with anything but a limited humanitarian mandate, accusing the body of siding with Muslim guerrillas.

But last February the then Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Moscow was willing to cooperate with European democracy and rights bodies in promoting a peace settlement and reconstruction in Chechnya.

"Russia is ready to collaborate with the OSCE, the Council of Europe and other international organisations in the interest of a political settlement and the reconstruction of Chechnya," the top Russian diplomat said.

OSCE headquarters are in Vienna, with offices and institutions in Copenhagen, Geneva, The Hague, Prague and Warsaw.

Its missions and field activities have covered south-eastern Europe, the Caucasus, eastern Europe and Central Asia, working on the ground to facilitate political processes, prevent or settle conflicts, and promote civil society and the rule of law.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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