OSCE Parliamentarians from 55 Member States Defeat Azeri Effort

ANCA Welcomes Parliamentary Assembly’s rejection of divisive Mountainous Karabagh resolution

WASHINGTON–DC–The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA) meeting last night in Washington–DC–voted overwhelmingly to defeat a controversial measure on Nagorno Karabagh authored by Azerbaijani Parliamentarian Sattar Safarov–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The vote took place during a meeting of the OSCE PA’s Heads of Delegation–as part of the opening session of the four-day meeting for members of Parliament from the 55 member states of the OSCE. The Safarov resolution–which was widely viewed as a biased and divisive measure–received only token support–with nearly all the Heads of Delegation voting to keep the measure off of the OSCE PA agenda.

The OSCE PA proceedings are being presided over by Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL)–the first US legislator to ever serve in this capacity. Other members of Congress participating in the Assembly include: Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)–who is heading the US delegation–Senator George Voinovich (R-OH)–and Representatives Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ)–Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD)–Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD)–Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY)–Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL)–Mike McIntyre (D-NC)–Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA)–Mike Pence (R-IN)–and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

The Armenian delegation is being headed by Vahan Hovhannisian–the Deputy Speaker of Armenia’s Parliament. Other members of the delegation are Artashes Geghamyan–MP and Samvel Nikoyan–MP. The ANCA worked closely with the Armenian delegation and the Armenian Embassy in Washington–DC–as well as with Armenian National Committee affiliates in Canada and throughout Europe–in sharing with OSCE PA members the dangers of the Safarov resolution.

"We would like to thank Congressman Hastings for his leadership in the Assembly’s proceedings–and to express our appreciation to all those who voted against the Safarov resolution for their responsible stewardship of the OSCE’s efforts to facilitate a negotiated settlement to the Nagorno Karabagh conflict," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA.

The defeat of the Safarov resolution set the stage for the standard consideration by the Assembly of the Mountainous Karabagh conflict. This discussion is being led by Swedish Member of Parliament Goran Lennmarker–who has served since June of 2002 as the OSCE PA special representative on this issue. In preparation for the OSCE PA meeting–Lennmarker presented a report–titled "A Golden Opportunity: Some Ideas on Nagorno Karabagh Conflict," to the Heads of Delegations to the OSCE PA.

In this report–Lennmarker stressed that there is now a golden opportunity–through the OSCE Minsk Peace-process–for a peaceful solution of the Mountainous Karabagh conflict–based on concept where both Armenia and Azerbaijan come out better. In his remarks–Lennmarker noted that "the conflict is not frozen," adding that "there is no alternative to a peaceful solution–in fact there is an urgent need to solve the conflict in order to end the personal–economic–and social suffering on both sides of this conflict." He proposed basing a solution on experiences from Europe–where democracy and integration are fundamental components in securing a lasting peace–and added that strong European and international institutions stand ready to support Armenia and Azerbaijan.

In the weeks leading up to the convening of this meeting–the ANCA–through grassroots outreach–stressed to the US members of Congress–serving in the OSCE PA–that Armenian Americans attach tremendous importance to Mountainous Karabagh’s rights to freedom–democracy and–self-determination. The Armenian American community–the ANCA stressed–has invested considerable hope in the OSCE Minsk Group process and is strongly against any efforts to derail this effort.

In a June 24th letter sent to Congressman Hastings and to others in the US delegation–ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian warned of the dangers presented by the Safarov resolution. He described it as a "one-sided approach to a complex issue," that "neither fairly characterizes the conflict nor presents any practical steps toward its resolution. In sum–it is a destructive measure that will–if adopted–ultimately threaten the progress of the OSCE Minsk Group peace talks." Hachikian specifically called on the US members of the Assembly to vote against the Safarov resolution and "to strongly oppose any and all efforts to use the Assembly’s meeting as a forum for one-sided efforts to derail progress toward peace in Nagorno Karabagh."

The OSCE PA is the parliamentary dimension of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe–whose 55 participating States span the geographical area from Vancouver to Vladivostok. The primary task of the 317-member Assembly is to facilitate inter-parliamentary dialogue–an important aspect of the overall effort to meet the challenges of democracy throughout the OSCE area. Recognized as a regional arrangement under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter–the OSCE is a primary instrument for early warning–conflict prevention–crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in its area. The Parliamentary Assembly–originally established by the 1990 Paris Summit to promote greater involvement in the OSCE by national parliamen’s–has grown into a very active and esteemed member of the OSCE family.

To learn more about the OSCE PA–visit: http://www.oscepa.org.

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