YEREVAN (RFE/RL–Itar-Tass)–The chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek–arrived in Armenia on Wednesday on the first leg of his tour of the three south Caucasian states.
Officials say the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be the main focus of Vollebaek’s talks in the Armenian and Azeri capitals this week. The OSCE’s so-called Minsk Group–co-chaired by Russia–the US and France–has long been trying to negotiate a settlement for one of the most intractable disputes in the former Soviet Union.
"We have to try to find a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem," Vollabaek told reporters at the Yerevan airport. "I’m very pleased with developmen’s we have seen lately in contacts between the parties. I would like to support the direct contacts between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan," he said.
Vollabaek will meet with Armenian President Robert Kocharian and other senior officials before he leaves for the Georgian capital Tbilisi late on Thursday. He is also scheduled to hold talks in Yerevan with Arkady Ghoukassian–the president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
After his arrival in Yerevan–Vollebaek will meet his Armenian counterpart Vartan Oskanian–and the two men will sign a memorandum on the establishment of the OSCE mission in Yerevan. Their meeting will be followed by a visit to Dzidzernagabert Armenian memorial monument for the victims of the Genocide.
Vollebaek will also attend the opening of an exhibition dedicated to Norwegian humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen–who assisted Armenian refugees who escaped the Genocide.
He will also meet leaders and representatives of deputy factions in the Armenian parliament–