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Dialogue called key to Europe's security

ATHENS, Greece, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The new chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has called for strengthening the OSCE's role in promoting dialogue to ensure security.

Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, the new OSCE chairperson-in-office, replaced Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb after his term ended in 2008. Bakoyannis called the OSCE an important forum for increasing dialogue on matters of security, the OSCE reported.

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"The OSCE plays a crucial role in regional security, working for stability, prosperity and democracy throughout its 56 participating states," Bakoyannis said in a statement.

"It is an irreplaceable forum for dialogue in our region and does valuable practical work on the ground. We will try to strengthen the OSCE's role at the heart of European security."

At the top of the OSCE agenda is helping resolve the conflict between Russia and Georgia, which in August engaged in a violent confrontation over Georgia's South Ossetia and Abkhazia breakaway regions. Since the conflict, Russia has become the only OSCE member country to recognize the independence of the two regions, which prompted a recent disagreement over the OSCE's mission in Georgia.

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The disagreement resulted in the OSCE ending its operations in the war-ravaged country. Bakoyannis called the disagreement with Russia "regrettable" and said plans are under way to try to come to a compromise in order to resume operations in Georgia.

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