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EU Selects Swiss Diplomat to Investigate Caucasus Conflict

The European Union's foreign ministers have called on a seasoned Swiss diplomat to investigate the military conflict between Russia and Georgia in August.

A man sits outside a tent in a refugee camp in Gori, Georgia

How did it all start? It's Tagliavini's job to find out

Russia blames Georgia and Georgia blames Russia for the escalation of the violent conflict that broke out over the breakaway province of South Ossetia in August, which has led the EU to call for an examination of the exact course of events.

Heidi Tagliavini was selected by the foreign ministers of EU member states in Brussels on Monday on the basis of her extensive knowledge and experience in the Caucasus region. The details of her mandate are yet to be determined.

Ironically, Switzerland, which has always maintained a stance of neutrality in Europe, is not a member of the 27 nation bloc.

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged both Moscow and Tbilisi to cooperate fully with Tagliavini.

"Both sides would be well-advised to demonstrate cooperation with each other on a day to day basis," he said, adding that Tagliavini should be able to access the current situation to determine what needs to be done.

One priority is civilian reconstruction in the aftermath of the brief, but violent war that was instigated by Georgian troops marching into South Ossetia and later crushed by Russian military might.

Heidi Tagliavini, who joined the Swiss foreign service in 1982, is a seasoned diplomat, who was formerly head of the UN Observer mission in Georgia, a member of the first Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) assistance group to Chechnya and had also once served at the Swiss embassy in Moscow in the mid-1990s.

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