Swiss Assume OSCE Chairmanship

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter

VIENNA—Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter on Thursday pledged to seize all opportunities for conflict settlement as he outlined the priorities of the Swiss chairmanship of the OSCE at the first Permanent Council in Vienna.

2014 should be the year for reconciliation in the Western Balkans, with the OSCE advancing regional cooperation and playing a supporting role in the implementation of the Belgrade-Pristina agreement, he said.

Protracted conflicts in the South Caucasus, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the consequences of the August 2008 conflict in Georgia, and the Transdniestrian settlement process are also high on the agenda, Burkhalter said.

“We are well aware that progress may not come overnight, and that no settlement will be feasible unless the parties are committed. However, we firmly believe that it is not an option to simply wait and see,” he added.

Incidents on the contact line between the Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces remain a matter of concern, Burkhalter said.

He added that high-level contacts have intensified after the meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Vienna.

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office also said that in the south Caucasus there have been some encouraging signs concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in recent weeks.

Burkhalter stressed that the Swiss Chairmanship of the OSCE will support the efforts of the Minsk Group co-chairs through Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, who will also encourage contacts between the civil societies of Azerbaijan and Armenia and between experts.

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