ATHENS, 10 February 2009 - The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, today expressed her concern over the detaining by South Ossetian militiamen of two unarmed OSCE Military Monitoring Officers of the OSCE Mission to Georgia, saying it added to existing tensions. She also expressed her relief for their release.
The two officers were conducting a routine patrol south of the administrative boundary, near the village of Adzvi, when armed South Ossetian militiamen demanded to see their identification documents, searched their diplomatic vehicle and escorted them to the militia's station in Goyata. Subsequently, the officers were taken to a post in the village of Artsevi, and after nearly three hours, were returned to their original location and released.
"I am deeply concerned by this incident, which adds to existing tensions," Bakoyannis said. "The OSCE Military Monitoring Officers' patrols are a crucial contribution to defusing tensions and restoring stability in the region. They must do their work unhindered. I am also relieved by the fact that the situation was quickly resolved.
"However, today's incident runs counter to the diplomatic immunity enjoyed by the OSCE representatives, including the OSCE Military Monitoring Officers. This is not acceptable. I urge all involved to act in a constructive manner to contribute to security."