Security issues, unresolved conflicts in the OSCE area, the situation in Ukraine, as well as the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are at the center of discussions of the 24th summit of the OSCE Ministerial Council, which is being held in Vienna, the capital of Austria.
Opening the summit, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Sebastian Kurz reported on the work done during Austria’s chairmanship. He noted that during his country’s chairmanship, the main priorities were security issues and expansion of cooperation. According to him, unresolved conflicts and terrorism remain the major threats to European security. He also highlighted the importance of joint efforts in fighting extremism and radicalization and called on the member states to work closely together to enhance security.
Stressing the importance of mutual trust and cooperation, Secretary-General Thomas Greminger said that the OSCE is the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. “Security starts with confidence, and confidence with dialogue,” emphasized Thomas Greminger.
Speaking about the talks on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov regarded the discussions as invigoration of result-oriented substantive negotiations.
“Yesterday, together with the co-chairs we spent 8 hours negotiating on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution. From one point of view, it’s good, it’s re-invigoration of substantive result-oriented talks, and it can raise some reasons for the co-chairs’ optimism. Of course, we are very bound to the meeting of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Geneva on October 16 of this year, and it was a step in the right direction, because this meeting proved that attempts to pre-condition the resumption of substantive talks are doomed to failure,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister said.
In addition, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President George Tsereteli said that conflicts in the OSCE area are of great concern.
“We have our protracted conflicts and occupation of the territories. But as the OSCE PA President, I am equally concerned by all conflicts around the OSCE area. Increasingly intense hostilities in and around Nagorno-Karabakh are a cause for deep concern. And of course, we must not lose focus on the crisis in and around Ukraine,” George Tsereteli said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov touched upon the settlement process of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“As an OSCE Minsk Group co-chair, Russia will continue to contribute to the search for a solution acceptable for all parties in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The principles of conflict resolution were announced by the heads of state of the Minsk Group co-chair countries,” Sergey Lavrov said.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that the US welcomes the commitment to the intensification of the negotiations and de-escalation along the entire contact zone, undertaken by the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia during the October summit.
The Ministerial Council is the central decision-making and governing body of the OSCE. The meeting, held annually, provides the Foreign Ministers of the 57 OSCE participating States an opportunity to review and assess the Organization’s activities and strengthen the dialogue on security issues in the OSCE area. Italy will be the chair of the OSCE in 2018, following a consensus decision of the organization’s 57 participating States in July 2016.