Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman

  I am writing to let you and your Committee know of our plans to agree a Joint Action in support of the conflict settlement process in South Ossetia, Georgia, on 27 June. This will, unfortunately, constitute an override of parliamentary scrutiny. The current EU Joint Action regarding this commitment expires on 30 June 2006. The EU plans to adopt a renewal Joint Action to give financial assistance to the OSCE Mission to Georgia to fund the operation of the Joint Control Commission (JCC) on 27 June. The JCC is the main framework and forum for the conflict settlement process in South Ossetia, the separatist Georgian region. The new Joint Action will finance meetings of the JCC and other JCC framework mechanisms, provide for the organisation of JCC conferences and supply running costs for the two Secretariats for one year.

  The EU's assistance has reinforced efforts to help resolve this conflict, ensuring the continued functioning of both the Georgian and South Ossetian Secretariats (run under the aegis of the OSCE) and the JCC. The OSCE and both Georgian and South Ossetian JCC co-Chairs have requested this follow-up assistance from the EU. We attach considerable importance to the conflict resolution process in South Ossetia. Tensions between the Georgian government and South Ossetia have in the past led to military clashes. These problems have the potential to involve others such as Russia.

  Recent redistribution of EU responsibilities inside the FCO and staffing problems have caused the delayed deposit of this Memorandum to your Committee. I apologise for this and assure you that measures are being taken to prevent this occurring again. So that the JCC continues to receive funding, and given the importance of this ongoing conflict resolution process, I hope your Committee will understand that I am reluctant to ask the Council to postpone the Council's decision until after scrutiny has been completed.

21 June 2006

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