Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Week 5-11 Sept.: The ball rolls...

Some times ago there were much speculations about what was going to happen with the EU Special Representatives.
After the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, some suggested that as the position of Special Representative was not foreseen, they would all disappear. Others claimed that they would exist, as long as no all countries they were in charge of had an EU delegation. Others mentioned that a regional coordinator for some area was needed. Others quoted the US system, thus recommending to keep their position.

After all these speculations and hesitations, it seems that for now the Special Representatives (SR) have not found yet a proper replacer in the European External Action Service (EEAS). Still, a rotation of some of them is unavoidable. So Peter Semneby and Pierre Morel step back from their positions of Special Representative for the South Caucasus, the former, and Special Representative for the Crisis in Georgia, the latter. The two mandates have been bestowed on one person, Philippe Lefort.

In the notes of the EEAS his career his so summed up "Philippe Lefort is a French diplomat of more than 20 years' experience. He has devoted large parts of his career to the Caucasus and Russia, among other things as French Ambassador in Georgia (2004-2007) and as Deputy Head of Mission at the French Embassy in Russia (2007-2010). Since 2010, he has been the Head of Continental Europe General Directorate at the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. On 1 September 2011, Ambassador Lefort started his duties as new EUSR for the South Caucasus."

It makes sense, somehow, to have two mandates focused on one region to be covered by one person. Indirectly, hopefully this will help the SR for the Crisis in Georgia to have a full picture of the impact of the protracted cease-fire at regional level and to sense how local actors feel about it.
At the beginning of the week, Philippe Lefort, who will be based in Brussels, made his first mission to the region. He met Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, the Georgian Minister of Foreign Affaires Grigol Vashadze (President Michail Saakashvili was in Poland, attending the World Economic Forum).
He also met EU colleagues deployed in the region, like the new EUMM head of Mission, Andrzej Tyszkiewicz.
No visits to Tskhinvali and Sukhumi, which will probably take place in the framework of the Co-Chairs' pre-Geneva Discussions tour to the region. A cautious step, and politically correct.

Summertime is over, the ball rolls again. And anew.

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