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Greece Will Be “Honest Broker” as OSCE Chairman, Ambassador Says
February 19, 2009—No. 14 (202) 785-8430

Greece Will Be “Honest Broker” as OSCE Chairman, Ambassador Says

WASHINGTON, DC—Greece will play the role of “honest broker” during its chairmanship of the OSCE and is willing to host a summit to discuss proposals for a new European security architecture when the time is right, the Greek ambassador to the United States said on February 18.

Speaking to a policy forum hosted by the American Hellenic Institute and the Eisenhower Institute, Ambassador Alexandros P. Mallias also said the ongoing crisis in Georgia presents Greece with a major challenge during its 2009 chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“We are committed, willing and we have the potential to work as an honest broker,” the ambassador said in a speech outlining Greece’s priorities for the organization, which was launched in 1972 and is comprised of 56 member states from Europe, Asia and North America.

The biggest challenge facing OSCE countries, he said, is mapping out a new security architecture for Europe. Last fall, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev proposed a pan-European security accord.

“The Greek chairmanship, as an ‘honest broker,’ is willing to explore the possibility of organizing a summit, at whichever level is deemed appropriate, aimed at the beginning of a discussion regarding our common safety. But we are not yet there,” Mallias said.

“There has been, as you know, a Russian proposal. It is under examination and if consensus is reached, Greece would be happy to host this conference on Greek territory.”

The ambassador hailed the agreement announced by the OSCE last week to extend the presence of 20 military observers in Georgia through June. He said it marked the first time that both Russia and Georgia had consented to the OSCE mandate following Russia’s unilateral recognition of independence for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Quoting Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who will visit the United States next week, the ambassador said: “The future of the OSCE presence in Georgia requires, definitely, special focus and attention. It is evident that the situation on the ground and the throughout the region requires more OSCE engagement and presence, definitely not less.”

Setting out the raft of issues facing Greece as it leads the OSCE, Mallias said:

  • Greece is concerned by the continuing lack of clarity over the future of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty and added: “We must do everything to retain and improve this fundamental foundation … of military transparency and predictability.”
  • The OSCE has a key role in observing elections in the region, and 2009 will see important elections, particularly in the Balkans.
  • The OSCE can help ensure that the global financial crisis does not “cast a very heavy shadow over stability in the region.”

Introducing Mallias, Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and chairwoman emeritus of the Eisenhower Institute, said Greece has a unique role to play as OSCE chairman.

“Greece’s chairmanship is rooted in its historic place between East and West, the classical world and the modern world, and it will greatly benefit this organization by providing enormous opportunities during these very difficult times,” she said.

Ambassador Mallias, Susan Eisenhower, and Gene Rossides.

Photo 2
Ambassador Mallias.


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