OSCE Sees ‘Progress’ in Karabakh Conflict for New Year

YEREVAN (ArmRadio)–The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is hopeful that peace talks in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will see progress in the new year, the incoming chairperson of the Vienna Based organization said Wednesday in Baku, the Trend News Agency reported.

“We hope we will see progress in this direction in 2009,” said Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, the OSCE’s new chairwoman-in-Office. Greece will assume the rotating chairmanship of the OSCE on January 1 from Finland, the former chairing country.

Bakoyannis said Greece believes that frequent meetings between the Azerbaijani and Armenian representatives will lead to the establishment of mutual confidence which is essential to solve the conflict.

“Greece fully supports these efforts and encourages constructive engagement from both parties, in line with the Statement delivered at the Helsinki Summit earlier this month by the French Foreign Minister on behalf of the European Union,” Bakoyannis said.

Earlier this month, the US, Russia, and France, the three countries co-chairing the OSCE’s Minsk Group mediating the Karabakh conflict urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to build on reported progress in recent talks between their presidents and reach a framework agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh in the “coming months.”

“We call on the parties to work with the Co-Chairs [of the OSCE Minsk Group] to finalize the Basic Principles in coming months, and then begin drafting a comprehensive peace settlement as outlined by those agreed principles,” Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov of Russia and Bernard Kouchner of France and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said in a joint declaration.

The declaration was issued after the three men met with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers on the sidelines of an OSCE ministerial meeting in Helsinki on December 4.

Earlier in November the Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev signed near Moscow a joint declaration with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledging to step up efforts at a political solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

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