|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6088th Meeting (AM)
SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY ORGANIZATION FOR SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE;
MISSIONS IN GEORGIA, KOSOVO, ENGAGEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN TAKE CENTRE STAGE
In a briefing by the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) this morning, the Security Council heard about that regional organization’s main priorities and issues common to the agendas of both organizations.
Among her key points today, the current OSCE Chair, Dora Bakoyannis, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, stressed that last summer’s crisis in Georgia should serve as a reminder that more must be done to translate the principles of the United Nations Charter and the Helsinki Final Act into durable reality on the ground. The Greek chairmanship intended to play an active role towards that goal, as an honest broker. She also drew attention to the recent extension of the military monitoring activities of the OSCE Mission in Georgia until 30 June, and described the way OSCE had successfully addressed the disruption in the delivery of gas from Georgia to South Ossetia.
On Kosovo, she stressed the importance of restructuring the international presence there, explaining that the OSCE Mission would continue to implement its mandate, based on Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). Her recent visit to Pristina had strengthened her conviction that the OSCE Mission remained a stabilizing factor in Kosovo, ensuring the continuity of the international presence and maintaining good working relations with all communities. She also underlined the Mission’s excellent cooperation with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
OSCE’s deepening engagement with Afghanistan would remain a priority in 2009 and beyond, she said, reflecting on border security and policing. While recognizing the United Nations coordinating role, the Greek chairmanship would place emphasis on its extensive experience in Central Asia, which could benefit the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia.
Ms. Bakoyannis also addressed the issues of the fight against terrorism, where most OSCE work was undertaken in support of the implementation of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001). This year, OSCE would examine cross-dimensional aspects of the migration phenomenon, where there was a great potential for cooperation with the United Nations. In the area of human rights, dialogue with the United Nations would be particularly beneficial in the areas of gender equality and the rule of law.
And finally, she reminded the Council that the first high-level multilateral discussions on the proposals of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and others for renewed European security dialogue had taken place within OSCE during the Helsinki Ministerial Council. Those exchanges had confirmed that OSCE was a unique platform for dialogue in its region, thanks to its inclusive composition, signature concept of comprehensive security and long negotiating experience.
Following the briefing, several Council members expressed their high appreciation for OSCE’s work, stressing that its strength lay in its multidimensional approach to security, which included the aspects of development and human rights. They also discussed ways of deepening the Council’s links with the organization.
While noting OSCE’s fruitful cooperation with the United Nations in a number of key areas, the representative of the Russian Federation said, however, that it had not fulfilled its role in the context of the events in the Caucasus last August. OSCE had been unable either to prevent Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia, or to appropriately assess the actions of the Saakashvili regime. Also, the lack of key information by OSCE observers had had a negative imprint on the situation in the Security Council. That was far from the best example of cooperation.
The August crisis in the Caucasus had demonstrated the shortcomings of the existing situation of security in the Euro-Atlantic space, he continued. President Medvedev’s initiative of drawing a comprehensive and legally binding document on European security sought to address that situation. He expected close cooperation with the Greek chairmanship in continued discussion of that Russian initiative. He hoped that the philosophy presented by Ms. Bakoyannis would help to transcend the crisis phenomena of recent years and adapt OSCE to the new realities.
The representative of the United Kingdom said his country was carefully studying Russian ideas to enhance European security and was open to more discussions. He looked forward to more information as to why a new treaty was needed to enhance security. Europe was fortunate to have strong multilateral institutions, for which OSCE was crucial in helping to provide real security.
France’s representative supported a strengthened OSCE. European security had been “hard tested” in 2008, a year that had seen a breakdown between two States in confrontation, which had created insecurity. The reality was not one of two blocs. The Russian Federation, together with Europe, must build a “safe space”, as well as trust. In the summer of 2008, the Russian President had made proposals on European security, and France was prepared to enter into discussion on such issues. France would also support the Chair’s idea to pursue high-level dialogue.
While welcoming close cooperation between OSCE and the United Nations, representatives of Libya and Uganda cautioned the Council against applying double standards in respect of other regional organizations. Libya’s representative pointed out that today was the second time in four months that the Council had listened to OSCE in an official meeting. However the Council had refused to respond to a request for an open briefing by the League of Arab States and the African Union. He hoped that, in the future, the Council would be able to hear all regional organizations in official meetings, especially those inextricably linked with the United Nations in the maintenance of peace and security.
In that connection, Uganda’s representative stressed the importance of having free communications between various regional organizations and the Security Council, especially on issues of human rights and security. The Council would become stronger and more respected if its channels of communication remained open.
France’s speaker said he was puzzled to hear that the African Union and the Arab League had not been afforded the same opportunity. He could not remember a time when the Council had rejected such a request. The format was decided by consensus, and if a request was rejected, it was a collective rejection.
Also participating this morning in the discussion were the representatives of Turkey, United States, Austria, Croatia and Japan.
The meeting was called to order at 10:08 a.m. and adjourned at 11:10 a.m.
DORA BAKOYANNIS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, briefing the Security Council in her capacity as the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said the first priority now was to strengthen OSCE in the field. Last year’s crisis in Georgia was a reminder that more needed to be done to translate the United Nations Charter and the Helsinki Final Act into durable reality on the ground. OSCE had devoted great attention to ongoing discussions on its future presence in Georgia. In the absence of a consensus, the OSCE Mission to Georgia had found itself, since 1 January, in a phase of technical closure. OSCE must do more in Georgia and not less, and the Greek chairmanship intended to play an active role towards that goal as an honest broker, for which its experience, diverse toolbox and comprehensive approach to security were unparalleled assets.
On 12 February, she noted, OSCE participating States had extended the Mission’s military activities until 30 June. They had also followed closely the agreement on the extension of the United Nations Mission in Abkhazia (United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia -- UNOMIG) until 15 June. She saw both decisions as recognition of the need for United Nations and OSCE presence on the ground. Much more was needed. The Greek chairmanship would continue consultations on a more comprehensive OSCE presence in Georgia. In the meantime, it was committed to the Geneva framework, co-chaired by the United Nations, OSCE and the European Union. The Geneva platform demonstrated the importance of cooperation between those three major actors and was the only framework where all the parties to the conflict met.
“Despite steep challenges, we are making progress,” she continued. Last week’s agreement on mechanisms for incident management had been a vital first step towards confidence-building and eventual conflict settlement. Now, it was important to make those mechanisms work in practice.
With humanitarian issues in the region remaining a major focus for OSCE, she said the organization had been asked to address the disruption in the delivery of gas to South Ossetia; OSCE had assisted both sides in identifying the cause of the disruption and taking corrective measures. On 25 January, gas deliveries had resumed. The Greek chairmanship was equally dedicated to resolving the disruption in the supply of water in the region and to address the issue of detainees and missing persons, at the request of the parties.
Also high on the OSCE agenda was the situation in Kosovo and the restructuring of the international presence there, she said, welcoming the Council’s endorsement of the Secretary-General’s November report, which had underscored the importance of the OSCE role in building and monitoring Kosovo’s institutions and supporting its minority communities. The OSCE Mission would continue to implement its mandate, based on Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). Her recent visit to Pristina had strengthened her conviction that the OSCE Mission remained a stabilizing factor in Kosovo, ensuring continuity of international presence and maintaining good working relations with all communities. She also underlined the Mission’s excellent cooperation with the rest of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and Special Representative Lamberto Zannier.
Turning to border security and policing, she said that OSCE’s deepening engagement with Afghanistan would remain a priority in 2009 and beyond. Afghanistan had been an OSCE partner for cooperation since 2003, and had expressed an interest in practical cooperation to address concrete problems. A multi-million euro package of assistance and capacity-building for Afghanistan had been prepared, in consultation with the Afghan authorities, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and other international actors. Most of those projects were entering the operational phase. OSCE would provide training to Afghan experts on such issues as border management and security, border patrolling, counter-narcotic policing, customs management and travel document security. The organization had also been working closely with Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission, in consultations with the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division, UNAMA and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights had been providing targeted assistance to the Commission’s efforts in election observation and other election-related issues, following up on the recommendations made by OSCE election support missions to Afghanistan in 2004 and 2005.
OSCE, with its expertise in police training and border management, and long experience in Central Asia, could make a meaningful contribution to the security of Afghanistan and its neighbourhood. It should stand ready to consider further assistance, as required, to the country, while recognizing the United Nations coordinating role. Other new avenues of OSCE and United Nations cooperation had also opened up in Central Asia. For instance, OSCE’s experience could be of benefit to the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia.
She also addressed OSCE’s key role in the fight against terrorism, where most of its work was undertaken to support the implementation of Council resolution 1373 (2001). In 2009, OSCE would also examine cross-dimensional aspects of the migration phenomenon, where there was great potential for cooperation with the United Nations. Among other important issues on the OSCE agenda, she mentioned climate change, security of energy supplies, the fight against hate crimes, and freedom of religion. On human rights, dialogue and exchange of experience with the United Nations system would be particularly beneficial in the areas of gender equality and rule of law. She also stressed the Greek chairmanship’s dedication to maintaining the highest standards for OSCE election observation activities, as 2009 would see important elections throughout the OSCE region.
The first high-level multilateral discussion of the proposals made by the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, and others for renewed European security dialogue had taken place within OSCE during the Helsinki Ministerial Council. Those exchanges had confirmed OSCE’s role as a unique platform for dialogue in the region, thanks to its inclusive composition, signature concept of comprehensive security and long negotiating expertise. Certainly, OSCE’s experience was flexible and could be drawn on in many different ways. Greece stood ready to organize meetings at any level to facilitate further dialogue.
JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom) said that, as one of many founding members of OSCE, his country held its work in high regard, especially in terms of security work and the human dimension. The world had seen OSCE play a valuable operational role in the Balkans -- Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina -- and he was encouraged by its growing cooperation in Afghanistan, especially vis-à-vis elections.
Regarding Georgia, he welcomed the agreement secured by the Chair to extend the military monitors until June. The goal was to find a basis for renewing the Mission’s mandate, and he welcomed the Chair’s efforts to find a compromise based on OSCE principles. There was an important role for OSCE in “unresolved conflicts”, and the Chair’s idea to appoint special representatives for them was helpful. He requested more on the prospects for that.
Regarding Russian ideas to enhance European security, he said the United Kingdom was studying them carefully, and was open to more discussions. He looked forward to more information as to why a new treaty was needed to enhance security. Europe was fortunate to have strong multilateral institutions, for which OSCE was crucial, in helping to provide real security.
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France) agreed with a strengthened OSCE. European security had been “hard tested” in 2008, a year that had seen a breakdown between two States in confrontation, which had created insecurity. The reality was not one of two blocs. The Russian Federation, together with Europe, must build a “safe space”, as well as trust. In the summer of 2008, the Russian President had made proposals on European security, and France was prepared to enter into discussion on such issues. France would also support the Chair’s idea to pursue high-level dialogue.
He said that suggestions must be based on trans-Atlantic ties, which included a broader conception of security, and in respect of the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter. OSCE was the appropriate forum for carrying out such discussion. Preserving the instruments on conventional weapons was vital to the discussion; the regime in Europe was a cornerstone, and restoring its viability was essential. Resolving remaining conflicts, including the question of Georgia, was also important. OSCE must continue to play a role in Georgia.
France was committed to OSCE, as it was a single model for cooperation based on security, which went hand-in-hand with human rights and the rule of law, he said, adding that OSCE made it possible to build common values. Its autonomy was its strength, and he urged its close cooperation with other regional bodies.
BAKI İLKIN ( Turkey) said OSCE’s priorities were pertinent. Given the security environment, the need for a multidimensional approach to security was important, and OSCE’s approach was effective in that regard. Further, OSCE brought added value to the quest for peace and stability. It cooperated closely with the United Nations; the goals were complementary, which necessitated cooperation. He supported OSCE’s continued efforts with the United Nations.
He said the pressing situation in Georgia required cooperation between the United Nations and OSCE. The latter organization could continue to have an exclusive role in the European security dialogue, and it was important to implement existing mechanisms to overcome deficiencies. It was OSCE’s duty to make the Treaty on Conventional Forces relevant. He wished the Chairperson success in her efforts, saying OSCE could count on Turkey’s cooperation for assistance.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) thanked Ms. Bakoyannis for the overview of OSCE priorities and said that, as an OSCE member, her country appreciated the Chair’s assertive role. The strength of OSCE came from its comprehensive definition of security, which encompassed development and human rights. In particular, she acknowledged the organization’s role in promoting peaceful resolution of conflicts and in building strong democratic institutions, including strengthening the rule of law, development of legislative transparency and provision of election assistance. The United Nations and OSCE already cooperated in many areas and she welcomed the chance to further broaden that cooperation. Among other opportunities in that regard, she mentioned border-control projects in Central Asia. Afghanistan had requested OSCE assistance, and she hoped that border-security projects there would be implemented fully and expeditiously. She also noted the OSCE role in the elections in Afghanistan.
Regarding OSCE missions in the field, she said that Kosovo merited special attention, as OSCE played a unique role there. She hoped its important work in Kosovo would continue as Kosovo continued to strengthen its democratic institutions and the European Union assumed a more important role. In Georgia, cooperation was needed among all international institutions to promote peace and security. The OSCE Mission was a crucial component to reach resolution to the conflict in Georgia. There were concerns on the ground, and the role of OSCE must be bolstered. She welcomed the efforts to find a compromise approach for OSCE presence in Georgia, as well as a further round of talks in March or April.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria) said his delegation shared the priorities outlined by the OSCE Chair. The cooperation of the United Nations, and the Security Council in particular, with regional and subregional organizations under Chapter VIII of the Charter was of great importance and should be mutually reinforcing. OSCE over the years had played an active role by supporting the implementation of United Nations principles on various issues, including counter-terrorism, small arms and light weapons, and trafficking in human beings. He welcomed the emphasis on the rule of law and gender equality, with a particular focus on women and security, and violence against women. Both issues were interlinked and mutually reinforcing with human rights and democracy.
He fully supported the Chair’s determination to promote peaceful resolution of protracted conflicts in the OSCE region. An example of the complementarity of the United Nations, OSCE and the European Union was the recent crisis in Georgia. He supported the common efforts to find a lasting solution that would guarantee stability and security in Georgia. Any solution to the crisis must serve the aim of achieving sustainable peace and stability in the region and should be firmly grounded in the principles of international law, fully respecting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He congratulated the OSCE Chair on reaching agreement on the extension of the Mission’s mandate and fully supported her attempt to resolve the question of a comprehensive OSCE presence in the whole of Georgia, which would allow international monitors access to the region of South Ossetia. In parallel, he supported ongoing talks in Geneva, co-chaired by the United Nations, OSCE and the European Union. He was encouraged by the recent agreement on the joint incident prevention and response mechanisms and hoped that would lead to further tangible results.
OSCE continued to play a crucial role in Kosovo, which he said he fully supported. The OSCE Mission in Kosovo fulfilled an important role in guaranteeing a democratic and multi-ethnic future for Kosovo, in particular in building democratic institutions and in support of human rights and preservation of minorities’ rights. The stability in the Balkans was a shared goal of the United Nations, European Union and OSCE. He welcomed the complementary and mutually reinforcing efforts with other organizations on the ground, in particular the European Union, and was looking forward to continued OSCE engagement there.
In conclusion, he addressed the ongoing debate on the future of security in Europe, saying that OSCE was the right forum for that debate. It was crucial to bear in mind the comprehensive security approach developed over the years by OSCE, and to focus on how existing instruments and mechanisms could be further sharpened. As a practical contribution to the Chair’s efforts and to further stimulate the debate, Austria planned to invite security policy experts from think tanks and international organizations to a meeting in Vienna in May.
NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia) said today’s briefing was proof that collective security must be maintained and invigorated to address challenges. OSCE’s tools were being used by many Eastern European States, as well as by those in the Caucasus. In that context, there was also a need for trans-Atlantic cooperation. OSCE’s economic dimension was particularly relevant, due in part to the problem of energy delivery. Meanwhile, OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security was a logical path, especially in the face of the global recession. He saw a beneficial role for OSCE in democratization, and encouraged it to export its expertise to Afghanistan. Cooperation between the United Nations and OSCE could be strengthened on issues of terrorism, cross-border immigration and climate change.
IBRAHIM O.A. DABBASHI ( Libya) wished Greece success in organizing OSCE’s affairs in coming months. He wished to place on record that this was the second time the Council had listened, in an official meeting, to OSCE in four months. The organization was a regional composition based on Chapter VIII of the United Nations. It was not different from other regional organizations; however, the Council had refused to respond to a request by two others, namely, the League of Arab States and the African Union. After prolonged discussions, the Council had managed to hear them in an informal, unrecorded meeting. He believed Burkina Faso and Uganda shared his view. He hoped that “double standards” in the Council would end, and that it would be able to hear all regional organizations in official meetings, especially those inextricably linked with the United Nations in the maintenance of peace and security, such as the African Union.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said his delegation had consistently championed developing the Council’s cooperation with regional and subregional organizations. Such cooperation should be based on the Charter, in particular Chapter VIII, taking into account each organization’s comparative advantages. Key in that regard was respect for the leading responsibility of the Council in maintaining international peace and security. That would bolster the international community’s collective anti-crisis potential.
He said OSCE, as a regional organization, had established fruitful cooperation with the United Nations in a number of key areas, primarily in security and settling regional conflicts. Unfortunately, however, in the context of the events in the Caucasus last August, it had not fulfilled its role. OSCE had been unable either to prevent Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia, or to appropriately assess the actions of the Saakashvili regime. The information that OSCE observers had on the preparations and beginning of Tbilisi’s attack had not been passed to all OSCE State members and its collective leadership. That information had come to light only much later in a western media interview with former staff of the OSCE Mission in Georgia. The lack of that key information by OSCE observers had had a negative imprint in the security of the situation, which had developed as a result of Georgia’s aggression. That was far from the best example of cooperation.
The mandate of the OSCE Mission in Georgia had expired on 31 December 2008, and was no longer in line with realities, he noted. Since 1 January, the Mission had begun winding down its operations. The Russian Federation was ready to support the extension of OSCE’s field work, both in Georgia and South Ossetia, taking into account the new realities in the region, which would imply creating two separate missions in Georgia and South Ossetia. On 12 February, a decision had been taken on the extension of OSCE observers in the area of Georgia adjacent to South Ossetia, in accordance with the logic of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan. The key task of 20 observers was to prevent repetition of Georgia’s attacks on South Ossetia by providing reporting on the security situation and implementation by Georgia of its commitment to withdraw its troops to the place of their permanent dislocation. He expected OSCE, as a member of the incident prevention and response mechanisms, to promote increased trust in South Ossetia and Georgia.
He said that a more effective discharge of preventive and peaceful settlement of disputes by OSCE would be promoted by granting that entity a legal personality. The main goal of OSCE was to ensure equal and indivisible security for all States. No one should ensure their own security at the expense of someone else, but that key postulate of the European security charter remained unfulfilled. There was an increasingly tangible lack of mutual trust. The August crisis in the Caucasus had demonstrated the shortcomings of the existing situation of security in Euro-Atlantic space. President Medvedev’s initiative of drawing a comprehensive and legally binding document on European security sought to address that situation. He expected close cooperation with the Greek chairmanship in continued discussion of that Russian initiative. He hoped that the philosophy presented by Ms. Bakoyannis would help to transcend the crisis phenomena of recent years and adapt OSCE to the new realities.
RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) said he was happy that OSCE had worked closely with the United Nations system. He would also like to see close cooperation with other regional organizations, including the African Union. Today, he joined Libya in its position that the Security Council should not have double standards. It was true that Libya, Uganda and Burkina Faso had wanted the Arab League and African Union to raise issues of concern to their organizations in the Council. To their surprise, there had been resistance. The Council should be ready to listen to different regional organizations when they had matters of concern to their regions. Otherwise, its standards would be in doubt. It did not matter whether Council members agreed or not -– it was important to have free communication between various regional organizations and the Security Council, especially on issues of human rights and security. The Council would become stronger and more respected if its channels of communication remained open. Today the Council had a good opportunity to listen to the OSCE Chair and learn from its work.
Security Council President YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan), speaking in his national capacity, said he admired the Chairperson’s efforts in leading OSCE. Japan welcomed the agreement related to Georgia. Peace and security were indivisible, and regional organizations could make a great contribution to the United Nations work. As a partner country, Japan shared OSCE’s values, particularly in the areas of sustainable development and human rights, among other issues. Japan had exchanged knowledge with OSCE, especially through its participation in election monitoring missions.
He said Japan also attached great importance to Afghanistan and intended to contribute to the Afghan border security project, as presidential elections were expected this year. The cross-dimensional approach to security could be effectively addressed by promoting the concept of human security. In that context, Japan had cooperated on issues such as internally displaced persons, human trafficking and environmental degradation, notably by holding workshops. It also had organized a conference on human security and climate change. In June, Japan would host the OSCE Partner Conference in Tokyo, and would share its views with countries, including the Republic of Korea, Thailand and Mongolia. In closing, he reaffirmed Japan’s close cooperation with OSCE.
Taking the floor again, Mr. RIPERT ( France) said he had listened attentively to the Chair’s comments and the statements made by the representatives of Libya and Uganda regarding Council procedure. He was puzzled. All were aware of the importance attached to regional cooperation under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. That was a fundamental point and could be found at the forefront of the initiative led by France and the United Kingdom to review the modalities of peacekeeping operations.
He said it was true that, once or twice a year, the Council met with the OSCE Chair. If the Council was to be blamed for double standards, they were collective. He was puzzled to hear that the African Union and the Arab League had not been afforded the same opportunity. He could not remember a time when the Council had rejected such a request. The Council’s format was decided by consensus. If a request was rejected, it was a collective rejection. Those complaining of alleged discrimination were accomplices.
When France held the Council presidency and there were debates on the Middle East, there were no meetings in chamber during which the Arab League had not had the opportunity to take the floor, he recalled. As for Africa, his colleague from South Africa had had every opportunity to intervene. In a few weeks, a trip would be conducted to Addis Ababa to hold a joint meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Security Council.
He said he would study any schedule of debates involving OSCE, the Arab League and others presented by the Secretariat. There was no desire to discriminate against any member, and France had backed all initiatives of the Arab League.
Mr. DABBASHI ( Libya) thanked France for emphasizing the need for cooperation between the Council and regional organizations. Not to enter into public debate, he only wanted to say that, in the future, when a regional organization requested to brief the Council, he hoped the Council would accept that request and listen to the organization in question. Whether it related to a big group of issues or a specific case, it was highly important to listen to regional organizations. He hoped, in the future, there would be consensus in that regard. Not all members of the Council had been against the briefing in question, and he hoped no member would object in the future.
Mr. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said the exchange of views among France, Libya and Uganda had demonstrated that cooperation between the Security Council and regional organizations required fine tuning. That was not something to be discussed by “the troika” of France, Libya and Uganda. The Russian Federation would also have its considerations, possibly to be shared during the Russian presidency of the Council.
In closing remarks, Ms. BAKOYANNIS thanked the Council for its support. Indeed, 2009 would be a difficult and challenging year for OSCE, and she would “spare no efforts” in acting as an honest broker. Going forward, OSCE would count on goodwill and support for its decisions and agreements. “We need to work by consensus,” she added.
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