OSCE Chairman Pledges to Work toward Settlement of Frozen South Caucasus Conflicts

NEW YORK (Combined Sources)–The new Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Foreign Minister of Belgium–Karel De Gucht–told the United Nations (UN) Security Council on Monday that priority issues for the Belgian Chairmanship of the OSCE will be to address conflict resolution in the South Caucasus (Transnistria–South Ossetia–and Mountainous Karabagh)–Prednistrovie–and Kosovo.

"OSCE itself has neither the vocation nor the resources to impose a solution. However–in line with its mission it can manage and facilitate the emergence of a solution–provided that the main parties involved have a genuine desire to enter into negotiations," said Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht–in an address to the Security Council.

De Gucht later emphasized to journalists that there is a "window of hope" for settling the conflict in Karabagh–and that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to meet in February to discuss a resolution. "Before that–I plan to meet each of them. I believe the fact that they have agreed on a meeting is important in itself."

The OSCE chairman also pledged further cooperation with the UN to address issues of mutual concern–including terrorism and the protection of human rights.

"The UN and the OSCE share the same values," de Gucht said. Areas of common concern include respect for human rights–democratization–the protection of minorities–the prevention of conflicts–the management of crises–the fight against organized crime and terrorism and protection of the environment–he said.

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