VIENNA (Combined Sources)—The new Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday said he was encouraged by what he described as positive momentum in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks and expressed his support for ongoing efforts by the OSCE’s Minsk Group to resolve the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In his first speech to the OSCE Permanent Council since taking over as Chairman-in-Office on Oct. 6, Papandreou called on OSCE member states to “enhance cooperation to address prevailing tensions in the South Caucasus,” and pledged to lend his “personal support” to the American, French and Russian Minsk Group Co-Chairs “in their quest to achieve a long-lasting peace in the South-Caucasus region.”
He referred to protracted conflicts like the one in Nagorno-Karabakh, saying that “they are potential sources of discord, and we cannot afford to leave them on the back burner. The war in Georgia has proven this point.”
“Protracted conflicts have stubbornly plagued the OSCE area for decades now. “We are encouraged by the positive momentum that the recent frequent meetings of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan have created,” he added.
“We know that they are potential sources of discord, and we cannot afford to leave them on the back burner. I would like to pay tribute to the three Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group, as well as to my personal representative for the conflict dealt with by the Minsk Group Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk. I would like to pay tribute to their tireless efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue,” he said.
Papandreou also commented on the OSCE’s monitoring activities in Georgia, which ended earlier this year when the OSCE Mission closed due to lack of consensus by members to renew the mandate. He said the Greek chairmanship would continue seeking ways to ensure that the OSCE remains engaged in Georgia, especially in the conflict-affected areas.
The Permanent Council is one of the OSCE’s decision-making bodies. It convenes weekly in Vienna to discuss developments in the OSCE area and to make appropriate decisions.