OSCE Head Concerned Over Caucasus Peace Impasse

ASTANA (Combined Sources)–The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is concerned with the situation in the South Caucasus, according to Azeri news sources, which quoted its Chairman-in-Office, Alexander Stubb, as having said on Wednesday that the OSCE has failed to reach any progress in settling the region’s outstanding conflicts.

“Speaking frankly, we failed to reach any progress in the South Caucasus and I am concerned with the situation in the area,” Stubb said, pointing to the conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and North Ossetia.

Stubb’s statemen’s were made during the OSCE’s 17th Parliamentary Assembly Wednesday in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan and come amid growing tensions in the South Caucasus, as Azerbaijan threatens to start a renewed war in the region.

One of the major priorities of the OSCE is to solve the so-called frozen conflicts in the Caucasian region, according to Stubb, who is also the Foreign Minister of Finland.

The OSCE’s Minsk Group has been mediating for a settlement the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1997.

"The OSCE must be involved in settling these conflicts, rather than their managing them,” he said. “The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict is one of the conflicts in the region. We have a special representative in Nagorno-Karabakh and its [resolution] is one of the [OSCE’s] highest priorities.”

But Azerbaijan, which is officially on the record as supporting the conflict resolution process within the Minsk Group, has also been working in the international community to discredit the Minsk Group and remove the conflict settlement process from its framework.

In recent months, official Baku has used its diplomatic allies to gain recognition for its so-called territorial integrity by a number of international bodies, including the United Nations General Assembly. It has also been raising allegations in the Minsk Group and the Council of Europe against Armenia’s position regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process, claiming that an “Armenian occupation of Azeri lands” hampers the peace process.

In his remarks to the body’s Parliamentary Assembly, Stubb called on the countries involved in the region’s conflicts to be “serene” and “restrained,” and to maintain stability in the region.

Stubb’s statemen’s follow a string of hardening threats by Azerbaijan to reignite a war in the Caucasus. The most recent threat came on June 26 during Azerbaijan’s first military parade in 16 years, where Azeri President Ilham Aliyev announced his intentions to build a military industrial complex that would support a second round war with neighboring Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Any future progress in talks also seems hampered by a document of the basic principles for the settlement process, which was given to the Foreign Minister’s of both countries in Madrid last November. The document, known as the Madrid Principles, fails to address the major issues of the conflict—the security and right to self determination of the Nagorno-Karabakh people.

According to the Madrid principles, negotiations should be founded on a series of fundamental points that require Karabakh to, among other things, relinquish control of seven liberated districts that currently provide a security buffer against an increasingly bellicose Azerbaijan.

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