OSCE PA hopes for revitalizing ties with Azerbaijan
By Aynur Karimova
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Azerbaijan seem to open up new page in the relations after the recent depression.
The suspension of the activities of the OSCE Project Coordinator in Baku in June 2015 and the refusal of the organization to send an observation mission to Azerbaijan to monitor the November 2015 parliamentary elections in the country, considerably soured the relations between the two.
The organization is interested in elevation of cooperation with Azerbaijan to a new level in the spirit of constructiveness and understanding, Vice-Presidents of the OSCE PA George Tsereteli said at a meeting with President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on January 25.
Tsereteli, who led the OSCE PA delegation together with Vice-President Kent Harstedt, and OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella, discussed the significance of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the OSCE PA during this meeting.
Tsereteli once more reiterated that Azerbaijan is among the priority countries for the OSCE PA.
He thanked President Aliyev for Azerbaijan's participation in the projects carried out by the OSCE.
President Aliyev expressed hope that Tsereteli's visit to Baku will be fruitful and beneficial for both sides.
Azerbaijan and the OSCE are cooperating in combating terrorism, promoting religious tolerance in Azerbaijan, and improving cooperation between governmental institutions and civil society organizations in the fields of combating human trafficking and domestic violence, while supporting good governance projects.
Azerbaijan is also cooperating with the OSCE in the field of democratization and in this regard, the organization regularly observes elections in Azerbaijan.
Conflicts high on OSCE agenda
Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the OSCE, which is brokering in the solution of its most painful conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh with neighboring Armenia.
Cooperation with the OSCE plays a key role in the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The OSCE created the Minsk Group in 1992 with an aim to encourage a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is co-chaired by France, the Russian Federation, and the United States.
Azerbaijan joined the OSCE in 1992, soon after signing the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris and the Charter for European Security - the main instruments of the organization.
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which emerged after Armenia's territorial claims on Azerbaijan in 1988, was top on agenda of the meetings that OSCE delegation had in Baku.
Prime Minister Artur Rasizade stressed in a meeting with the OSCE delegation the importance of taking real steps for settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and also expressed regret that international organizations demonstrate double standards in settlement of the problem.
Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, in turn, drew attention to Armenia's keeping under control over 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory, stressing the importance of withdrawal of Armenian Armed Forces from Azerbaijan's occupied territories.
“OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs and all international community accept unacceptability and non-durability of the current status-quo,” Mammadyarov said.
OSCE for larger cooperation
After the meetings Tsereteli voiced a hope that this visit will revitalize the relations, enabling closer work on a wide range of issues of relevance to Azerbaijan and to the OSCE.
The OSCE PA believes that parliamentarians from Azerbaijan and Armenia can play an important role in reducing tensions, including through the organization's platform for dialogue and interaction.
“We also discussed the Assembly’s support for reforms in the political, social and economic spheres," Harstedt said. "The OSCE PA shows its respect for Azerbaijan by advocating continued work on democratic standards and political freedoms in the country. We stand ready to further engage with the country’s leaders, parliamentarians and civil society to promote OSCE principles and implementation of commitments, including in the sphere of elections.”
OSCE parliamentarian Vigenin reiterated the Assembly’s request that an OSCE field presence be re-opened in Baku to support Azerbaijan in its implementation of OSCE commitments.
Aynur Karimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Aynur_Karimova
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