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Swiss to take UN hot seat in Georgia

Heidi Tagliavini's appointment is seen as coup for Switzerland which is preparing to join the UN

(swissinfo.ch)

Swiss diplomat, Heidi Tagliavini, has been appointed United Nations' Special Representative for Georgia.

Tagliavini, currently Switzerland's ambassador to Bosnia-Herzogovina, will also head the UN Observer Mission in the country (UNOMIG) and is expected to take up the job in July.

Tagliavini told swissinfo that she felt very proud at being appointed head of UNOMIG.

"I feel very honoured, and I think Switzerland feels very much honoured that we are receiving such an important task." she said.

"And I am proud that the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, and the Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, have had this confidence in me."

Claude Ducret, who handles Switzerland's links with international organisations at the foreign ministry told swissinfo that Tagliavini's appointment was clear evidence of the constructive role Switzerland could play on the international scene.

"The nomination underscores the role of Switzerland in finding peaceful solutions to conflicts around the world," he said. "And it's an indication of the success of Switzerland's diplomacy at the UN."

Experience counts

Ducret also stressed the importance of the personal qualities Tagliavini would be bringing to the job.

"She is a very seasoned diplomat and has a lot of experience in various parts of the world," he said. "But she has very specific experience of the Caucasus region, and it's probably this that attracted the attention of the United Nations secretary general."

Tagliavini was Deputy Head of UNOMIG from 1998 to 1999 and a member of the assistance group to Chechnya for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1995. She also had diplomatic postings in Russia, the Netherlands and Peru.

Ducret said the biggest challenge facing Tagliavini will be to help both sides in Georgia to find a political solution to the country's internal conflicts. She will head up a staff of about 350 people, whose remit is to monitor the 1994 ceasefire agreement between Georgia's government and the Abkhaz authorities in the country.

UNOMIG includes 109 military observers, four of whom are Swiss, from 23 countries.

Heidi Tagliavini is originally from Basel and entered the Swiss diplomatic service in 1982.

swissinfo with agencies


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