CORFA, Greece (Today.az)—The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, has said she believes Azerbaijan plays a critical role in helping to promote security and stability in the South Caucasus and the whole OSCE area, reported the Azeri Today.az newsportal on Tuesday.
Her remarks came during a ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe held on June 27-28 on the Greek Island of Corfu.
“As was clear from our discussions in Corfu, we have made progress towards building a ‘Europe whole and free and at peace,’ but much work remains to be done, and new security challenges will test our commitment to indivisible security,” said Bakyoannis. “I look forward to continuing the dialogue we began so fruitfully in Corfu on this visit.”
According to Bakoyannis’s statement, her visit to Azerbaijan as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office comes at a time of formidable challenges and great opportunities for the organization.
Prior to the Corfu meetings, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian met with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in Paris. The talks followed five preceding meetings between Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian.
“I am encouraged by the latest developments in the negotiation process, and the constructive discussions that have taken place. There is a positive momentum in the discussions, which is vital to build upon. I fully support the mediation efforts of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs, as well as the confidence-building work of my Personal Representative Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk,” Bakoyannis said.
However, Bakoyannis added that incidents on the ground remain a grave concern and she urged both sides to fully implement the ceasefire agreement proposed by the Minsk co-chairs, a precaution which would force both parties to withdraw snipers from the line of contact.
“I am also encouraged by Azerbaijan’s dialogue with the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the intention to have a dialogue with the international community including the OSCE. I hope Azerbaijan and the OSCE can work together further to improve the legal media environment and to ensure that the law on NGOs also meets international standards,” Bakoyannis said.
Bakoyannis went on to say that open dialogue, a robust civil society and a free press are critical to the democratic process, and represent key commitments and standards for the OSCE member states. The OSCE and its Office in Baku, which has enjoyed excellent co-operation with Azerbaijan in a wide range of activities, from community policing to election legislation, stand ready to support the country’s efforts to further democratic reforms.