VIENNA (Reuters) – The head of Europe’s main security and human rights group warned on Friday the Georgia-Ossetia region was on the brink of full-scale war and he called for a halt to all fighting.
Tensions over Georgia’s rebel territory of South Ossetia exploded earlier on Friday when Georgia tried to assert control over the region with tanks and rockets, and Russia sent in forces to repel that assault.
“The intense fighting in the South Ossetian conflict zone risks escalation into a full-fledged war,” said Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb of Finland, current chairman of the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
“War would have a devastating impact for the entire region.
“I urge the Georgians, South Ossetians and Russians to cease fire, end military action and stop further escalation,” Stubb said in a statement. “We need to pull back from the brink of a full-fledged war.”
The outbreak of violence prompted the OSCE to call a special meeting of its main decision-making body in Vienna later on Friday. Stubb said he was in contact with his colleagues in the European Union and the United States.
He said he would send a special envoy to Georgia immediately and was ready to increase the number of OSCE observers as soon as the situation allowed.
The OSCE monitors security in the region and has a mandate to promote talks between the parties to the conflict.