Statement by Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, at 952nd Special Permanent Council Meeting of the OSCE
May 16, 2013
I would like to express our condolences to the people of Turkey on terrorist attacks that occurred in the Turkish town of Reyhanli. On the initiative of Azerbaijan, the UN Security Council has issued a press statement on this deadly attack. We condemn the terrorist acts in all forms and manifestations.
I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to the Ukrainian Chairmanship for its efforts in organizing this Permanent Council Meeting. It is my second appearance at the Council and I welcome this opportunity to further continue our dialogue. Today, I would like to elaborate on three main points concerning the role of OSCE and Helsinki+40 process, Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and OSCE activities in Azerbaijan.
As we all know, OSCE has been instrumental for stabilizing security environment after collapse of the Soviet Union. Through its unique platform OSCE participating states bridged sometimes extremely diverse positions and forged consensus on vital security-related matters. New mediating formats have been established and therefore, Azerbaijan highly values the OSCE format for addressing security threats and challenges as well as finding a common response to them on the basis of agreed principles and decisions.
Though we all continue to stress that the comparative advantage of our Organization lies in its comprehensive security concept, in practice one witnesses an obvious misbalance in the ways of addressing various security dimensions. For instance, politico-military dimension enjoys only formal or too academic attention, which has already resulted in the lack of efficiency in the relevant work of the OSCE bodies. While topics related to human rights are given a priority over all other issues by many Delegations, the OSCE has hardly displayed any political will to look into the problems of millions of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the OSCE area, particularly of those like in case of Azerbaijan, whose rights to return to the places of their origin are fully violated. An important element of developing the Organization’s capability for conflict prevention and crisis management, the OSCE peacekeeping mandate has not been substantively addressed. Problems impeding progress in protracted conflict resolution formats are kept apart from the OSCE conflict cycle related discussions and documents, as if they have absolutely no relevance for OSCE core mandate of conflict resolution and crises management.
Furthermore, the attempts to reinforce the principles of transparency, state sovereignty, territorial integrity and host-nation consent in negotiations on modernizing arms control regimes and CSBMs yielded no results. The issues related to the occupation of territories and illegal deployments of troops must not be beyond the scope of discussions on modernization of these documents, since in reality they constitute part of the reasons for ineffectiveness and gradual failure of existing arms control regimes. This problem seriously affects security of the OSCE region as well as undermines trust among the participating States.
Another risk observed recently in the OSCE is related to the attempts aiming to transform the Organization into the coordination mechanism of competing and opposing political-military groupings. Such a groupings-based competition and build-ups puts under question the indivisibility of the OSCE area, and seriously affects those states that due to different limitations cannot or will not join collective defense institutions in the near future.
All these and other issues require our serious engagement within the Helsinki+40 process and would like to commend the Ukrainian Chairmanship for launching the process. OSCE needs an informal platform for frank and open-minded exchange of views regarding the issues on its agenda. Addressing the problems must not be confined only to discussing them. Concrete actions are the best guarantees for success. We want OSCE to turn into action-oriented Organization and its participating States should open a new page by reaffirming their adherence to the Helsinki vision and act in their full conformity. We need to discuss how to prevent a decreasing role of OSCE in the pan-European security architecture. It is important to achieve progress in resolving the protracted conflicts in the OSCE area, the increasing co-operation and co-ordination of the OSCE activities with military and defense blocks as well as its impact on the security of participating States, who are not members of such security blocks, and providing adequate political and security guarantees to those non-members. The Republic of Azerbaijan will consolidate its efforts to ensure that these issues are properly addressed within the Helsinki+40 process.
Existing conflicts should always be at the heart of the OSCE activities as this issue has impacts on OSCE in all dimensions.
Against the background of OSCE’s inability to apply its’ agreed principles to the conflict settlement processes, there has been very little, if any, consistency in addressing the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the Permanent Council or the Forum for Security Co-operation or in any other OSCE institutional framework. Another often used argument to justify such “silent” approach to conflict-related issues is that discussing them in a wider OSCE format or expressing a point of view of individual participating states on them allegedly may negatively affect the settlement process or efforts by mediators.
Azerbaijan believes that potential for reaching peace through negotiations on Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict is not exhausted. We are convinced that in order to reach a breakthrough in the negotiations we need to get rid of the factor of presence of the Armenian military forces on the occupied territories of Azerbaijan despite the demands of UNSC four resolutions about immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal. We firmly believe that demilitarization of the conflict zone will create more room for engagement on all possible tracks and stimulate more confidence between both parties. Clearly, the difficulties in the negotiations and delay in reaching agreement are caused by the ongoing attempts of the Armenian side to benefit for maximum from the consistent use of force and the presence of her armed forces on the territory of Azerbaijan.
Within the negotiation process, Azerbaijan suggested starting immediate elaboration of a Roadmap that will envisage implementation of concrete and practical measures, where every step will dictate the next one and will be based on certain timeframes and the preceding elements. Such Roadmap must include all regional elements starting from withdrawal of troops, providing security guarantees for the population including those who will return to the places of their origin. It will be accompanied by reopening of borders as well as communications and gradually bringing both communities closer to the common denominator when they will be able to discuss and define the status. These steps will allow accommodating concerns and interests of both parties and setting them in one consistent process which is monitored, assessed and guided on a regular basis by the international community.
On the other hand, international community is a central element of this approach. In this regard, the Minsk Group format also requires immediate reinvigoration of its activities. Opening up the conflict resolution process for the entire membership of the Minsk Group will bring again a sense of engagement of OSCE and ownership over the process. We think it would increase the prospects of finding the soonest just resolution of the conflict and creation of atmosphere for trust and confidence in the region. Such approach is vital for future prosperity of the entire region, and will result in more predictability, good neighborhood and mutual respect.
On 17th of May we will have another meeting with Co-chairs and my Armenian colleague in Krakow, Warsaw. Using this opportunity I would like to repeat that there is a need for more substantive talks, not just talks for the sake of talks. That is a clear message that I would like to deliver to the participating States of the OSCE, as well as to the whole international community.
Democratic state-building of course is a permanently developing process. I would say it is a generational process and we in Azerbaijan have chosen this path. We reaffirm our willingness to continue the constructive dialogue and practical cooperation with all our international partners, including the OSCE. I would also like to note that, in the Presidential elections of October 2013 we will be following our commitments undertaken in the OSCE, and as the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan publicly announced during a joint press conference with the President of Austria, that we will invite international monitoring team to observe the elections.
Another issue which I would also like to touch upon is related to the OSCE Office in Baku. Government of Azerbaijan provided organizational and political support to the activity of the Office since its establishment. This year we proposed the remission of the OSCE Office in Baku to the Project Coordinator status. Azerbaijan as a member of the OSCE continues to meet its obligations fully and co operate actively with the Organization’s institutions as well as members on a basis of equality and mutual respect. Azerbaijan as a participating State considers that the co-operation within the OSCE should be mutually supported and reciprocated. We expect that such constructive position of my country will be considered positively by participating States and we will be able to adopt a decision in this regard.
In conclusion, we would like to wish the Ukrainian Chairmanship a successful year and tangible results in Kyiv Ministerial Council Meeting.