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Tagliavini to lead Georgia inquiry

Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini will lead the European Union's investigation into the chain of events in the August conflict over Georgia's rebel South Ossetia.

Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey on Friday said she had agreed to the request by the French-led EU presidency.

Georgia reportedly initiated an offensive to regain control over South Ossetia on August 7, launching heavy rocket and artillery fire and air strikes. In response, Russia, which has granted passports to most South Ossetians, launched overwhelming artillery shelling and air attacks on Georgian troops.

A preliminary ceasefire was signed on August 12, 2008, although fighting did not stop immediately. Russia recognised the independence of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia after the fighting.

The 58-year-old career diplomat was described on Friday as an "excellent person" by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU Commissioner responsible for External Relations.

Tagliavini has extensive regional knowledge and experience. She was deputy head of the UN observer mission in Georgia (1998-1999), the Swiss ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina (2001-2002) and a member of the first Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) assistance group to Chechnya (1995).


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