By Peter Tase
On December 3rd, 2015, the Serbian Government hosted the 22nd Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in which this year’s main focus was to rebuild a consensus on European security.
On this occasion the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić, encouraged in his opening address every official delegation to engage in a candid, open and constructive dialogue that could bring a solution to issues of mutual concern, this gathering was attended by over forty Ministers of Foreign Affairs together with hundreds of top level diplomats from the 57 OSCE member nations as well as eleven representatives of International Organizations.
According to the Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić: “it is important that OSCE make [its] best efforts to protect the fundamental values enshrined in the principles and commitments that the OSCE is based upon.”
Moreover the President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Ilkka Kanerva, a former member of the Finish Government, emphasized the need apply further reforms: “We must modernize the OSCE. Let me encourage all of us to consider the array of suggestions the Assembly has offered this year for the kind of reform that is essential, including the modification of consensus-bound decision-making to enable swifter action; increasing investment in our field presences; and more openly addressing human rights issues.”
Unfortunately the two aforementioned leaders of the OSCE in their official statements have failed once again to prioritize, bring an immediate end to the Nagorno-Karabakh armed conflict – even though Europe’s security is at the forefront – and raise awareness before the international community about the desperate need to secure the integrity and territorial sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan, an independent nation that has been invaded by the Armenian Armed Forces for twenty four years.
To make things more cynical, skeptical, the OSCE leaders and the majority of Foreign Ministers called “for further measures to strengthen ceasefire in Ukraine” and maintained silence towards the decades long armed conflict of Nagorno–Karabakh, they even went one step further this time by articulating the following requirement in the Joint Statement by the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries: “We emphasize that the Minsk Group remains the only accepted format by the sides and has the full confidence of all OSCE participating States. Any attempts to blame the Co-Chairs for setbacks in the negotiation process only mask the primary obstacle to peace – the lack of political will in Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach a negotiated settlement.” In other words other significant international players and credible organizations have no right to engage and contribute towards reaching peace and stability in the Caucasus Region, more specifically: to engage in a highly efficient manner in order to bring peace and ensure a full withdrawal of Armenian Armed Forces from the sovereign and internationally recognized territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Aside from the OSCE Minsk Group Statement, it is evident the hesitation of the OSCE leaders to make additional remarks about the current situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, it demonstrates clearly their intention to maintain the current status quo and not explore other mechanisms that could be more effective than the OSCE Minsk Group. As a result the OSCE, an organization in charge of ensuring the overall security of Europe and despite the similarities that exist between the Ukraine crisis and the Nagorno-Karabakh protracted conflict, emerges as an opaque entity (over the last years) that is prioritizing the crisis of Kiev and is turning a blind eye towards the war mongers of Yerevan who keep violating three resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, kill innocent Azerbaijani civilians, violate the International Laws and continue to engage in a daily routine of armed provocations against the Azerbaijani Border patrols in the contact line.
As if this attitude would not be enough, the OSCE had refused to send its observers to participate in the Parliamentary elections that took place throughout Azerbaijan on November 1st, 2015.
On the other hand the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov in his statement pointed out that “the inherent balance of three dimensions of OSCE’s comprehensive security is undermined today. Prevailing attempts to misuse the human dimension as a tool of pressure have only aggravated the crisis of trust within the OSCE. Ignorance to violations of mandates and serious deficiencies in activities of the OSCE executive structures and field presences question their relevance.” Minister Mammadyarov’s concerns are legitimate and should have received a major attention in the ministerial council; OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier should give a special priority to the proposal presented by the government of Azerbaijan, swiftly address these concerns raised by Baku and implement necessary changes in the reformulation of OSCE’s operational policies. It is worth mentioning that the OSCE on purpose maintains a flamboyant silence on the occupied territories that belong to the Nakhchivan Region of Azerbaijan; there are more than 400 square kilometers that are currently under Armenia’s full control, in violation of the Kars and Moscow treaties.
Foreign Minister Mammadyarov’s statement emphasized that “the protracted conflicts in the OSCE area remain the major threat and challenge to peace and security on the European continent. Armenia continues to disregard the calls of the international community, including the Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chair countries to start result-oriented negotiations on a peace agreement. The leadership of Armenia imitates the engagement with a view to consolidating the volatile status-quo created through the unlawful use of force and ethnic cleansing.” Azerbaijan’s Diplomatic Chief concludes his passionate, legitimate remarks by reiterating again that a “So-called “balanced” or undifferentiated attitude to the aggressor and the victim will never produce a desired outcome. The policy of appeasement only emboldens the aggressor. As an example, I need to mention the ongoing efforts by Armenia towards consolidating the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan through implantation of settlers, infrastructure changes, as well as exploitation of and illicit trade in assets…” It is beyond comprehension the difficult circumstances that have engulfed Azerbaijan for over two decades due to its violent neighbor.
Armenia’s repeated and multifaceted violations against the nation of Azerbaijan, is tragically affecting the innocent civilian population of Azerbaijan, propelling the largest numbers of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) – in the territory of Azerbaijan invaded by Armenia – since the early medieval times, making Azerbaijan the number one country in the world with the highest numbers of IDPs per capita in the world. Only this unquestionable fact and Minister Mammadyarov’s highly eloquent statement above must encourage the leaders of OSCE to pursue one of the two options: 1. Condemn the belligerent attitude of Armenian leaders, call to an end of Yerevan’s rogue state attitude, pressure President Sargsyan to immediately withdraw Armed troops from the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan; 2. OSCE must be dissolved as an organization or should fundamentally change its mission and vision, therefore cease to exist as a leading security organization in Europe.
It will not be a surprise anymore to see Ambassador James Warlick (Co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group) issue a twitter on the occasion of Armenia’s Army Day on January 28th (as he did last October 8th for Armenia’s 24th Anniversary of Independence) and not make a twitter reference or celebrate the May 28th Republic Day of Azerbaijan.