Ambassador Jorma Inki to be Head of the OSCE Assistance Group in Chechnya

Under the Portuguese Presidency of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Ambassador Jorma Inki will be in charge of the OSCE Assistance Group to Chechnya in 2002. The OSCE Assistance Group has operated in the Chechen Republic, which belongs to the Russian Federation, since 1995. For the period from August 1996 until June 2001, the mission was withdrawn to Moscow.

The Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE has traditionally appointed the head of this Mission from among its own nationals but Portugal, which is the new Chairman-in-Office, this time asked Finland to designate a diplomat whom it appointed to this task. Portugal announced the appointment of Ambassador Jorma Inki at the meeting of the OSCE Council in Vienna on Thursday, January 24. The basis for this kind of an exceptional arrangement is the close cooperation between the EU member countries and their like-mindedness, said ambassador Inki when speaking about his new task in a press conference on Friday, January 25. As the Head of the Assistance Group, Ambassador Inki will work under the authority and supervision of the Portuguese Chairman-in-Office, “as one of the Portuguese team”.

The Assistance Group is currently stationed in the town of Znamenskoye in North-Western Chechnya, where the staff was able to return from Moscow last summer during Romania’s term as the OSCE Chairman-in-Office. The OSCE Assistance Group works in close cooperation with the experts of the Council of Europe present in Chechnya and it keeps good contacts with the local authorities and non-governmental organisations. According to the OSCE guidelines the assistance group concentrates on humanitarian assistance as well as on monitoring and promoting the principles of democracy , the rule of law and human rights.

Before settling to Znamenskoye ambassador Inki will take part in an OSCE training session for field work in Vienna and meet members of the OSCE secretariat and the Permanent Representative of Portugal. Before that his meeting programme includes the director of the OSCE Organisation for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Gérard Stoudmann, the OSCE Ombudsman for Minorities Rold Ekéus in the Hague and a visit to the Council of Europe in Strassbourg. In the beginning of March Inki expects to meet the Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama when he visits Russia and Chechnya. This will give an opportunity to get direct high level instructions from the Chairman-in-Office supervising the work of the Assistance Group. Inki had a preliminary meeting with Foreign Minister Gama last September in Lisbon. Ambassador Inki is planning to arrive to the region of Chechnya in the middle of February.

Ambassador Inki was born in 1941. He has gathered experience in field work similar to the OSCE mission when he leading the European Union Monitoring Mission ECMM (now EUMM) in South-Western Europe during the Finnish EU Presidency in 1999. He has been in charge of i.a. conflict prevention at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. He has a long record of contacts with Russia, having worked e.g. as press-counsellor in Moscow and the director in charge of for Finlands Eastern trade in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. He has served as ambassador in Belgrade and Oslo.

Additional information: Ambassador Jorma Inki, tel 160 6123,
counsellor Hannele Voionmaa, tel 040 840 3448