Tag Archives: OSCE

#NK: Borrell warns against xenophobic rhetoric

Brussels 22.10.2020 The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, met today with the President of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, in Brussels. The leaders were no available for journalists of Brussels press-corps, however the press-release has been issued by the European External Actions Service:

“They discussed the situation in and around the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone. The High Representative/Vice-President referred to the 10 October and 17 October ceasefire agreements, mediated by Russia and France respectively in coordination with the other OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, which were agreed to by both Armenia and Azerbaijan but not respected. The European Union continues to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and strict respect for the agreed ceasefire by all. Any actions that target civilians or bring about further suffering to the civilian population must stop immediately. The High Representative/Vice-President also stressed that the sides have an obligation to comply fully with international humanitarian law”.

“The High Representative/Vice-President urged the sides to return to the negotiations on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, without preconditions and without delay. All actors, including external parties, should refrain from any actions that may result in the continuation of hostilities and further casualties. This includes bringing an end to the dangerous, inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric. High Representative/Vice-President Borrell reiterated the EU’s supports for the on-going efforts of the Co-Chairs through active high level contacts, as well as via the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus”.

Armenia accuses Turkey in terrorism export

Brussels 21.10.2020 Armenian President Armen Sarkissian assess Nagorno-Karabach conflict as a regional threat, and accuses Turkey of being the major obstacle to peaceful solution to the conflict.
During his visit to the NATO HQ in Brussels, the President agrees there is no military solution for the conflict:
«We are lucky that we have platform of the OSCE Minsk group, with the three co-charis United States, France and Russia, and I appreciate work of all co-chairs, the Presidents of these three countries, and recent efforts of Russian Federation, and President Putin, and Minister Lavrov» the President of Armenia said.
However he regretted that there was no trilateral meeting possible in Moscow, and the parties had to meet in bilateral talks, and «the war continues in and around Nagorno-Karabach». He aslo added that the military actions against civilians are unacceptable.

The Armenian President has underlined his concerns about the role of NATO ally – Turkey.
«…It looks sometimes that it is no longer conflict with Republic of Artsakh, or people of Nagorno-Karabach and Azerbaijan, but there is a third party as well, supporting Azerbaijan both politically, diplomatically, heavliy militarily, a third party that had supported and brought to the area Islamic terrorists; and unfortunately the third party is a member of NATO» the President of Armenia concluded.

«I belive if Turkey stops being part of the conflict, that will contribute to the cease-fire, and to understanding that there should be peaceful solution. I belive we will reach the seaze-fire there, and hopefully and after that go back to the negotiations at the table of the Minsk group, and finally find a peaceful solution for the conflict» the President underlined.

The hosting meeting Secretary General of NATO said the Alliance does not take side in the conflict.

«It is important for NATO and the international community, that the hostilities end» Jens Stoltenberg said, underlinying that the suffering should stop and the peaceful solution is found. «It is vital that all side now show restraint, observe the seaze-fire and de-escalate. Any targeting of civilians is unacceptable and must stop».
He underlined that the key is to find a sustainable solution.
The efforts of the co-chairs of the Minsk group «remain essential» Stoltenberg concluded.

None of the leaders accpeted the questions after the statements.

N.Karabakh: Borrell growing concerns

Brussels 7.10.2020  “Members, the current military confrontation along the Line of Contact in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone is of our utmost concern. It is the largest confrontation since 1993-1994. We have been very engaged on this issue” said Josep Borrell, the head of the EU diplomacy, while addressing the Members of the European Parliament.

“On the day that fighting erupted, I released a statement as High Representative, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities, de-escalation and strict observance of the ceasefire. During the past days, I have had several phone calls, separately, with the Armenian and the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers, urging both sides to stop the hostilities and to return to the negotiating table.

“Our position is clear: the fighting must stop. Both sides need to re-engage in meaningful negotiations – which, by the way, have not been very fruitful in the last 30 years – without preconditions, under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. There can be no military solution to the conflict, nor external interference. This position was reinforced by the European Council held on the 1st and 2nd of October.

“We have seen extremely worrying reports of a surge in attacks on populated areas, which is taking a deadly toll on civilians. We strongly urge the sides to fully observe their international obligations to protect civilian populations. And, with the resources we have, we have urgently allocated a small amount of money [€500,000] in humanitarian aid for the affected populations.

“In fact, we do not have a lot of information about how the conflict is developing. Detailed information is scarce and there is a lot of fake news.

“OSCE monitoring on the ground remains suspended, so we do not have observers. But what we observe is an increasing amount of disinformation, which is aimed at mobilising the domestic audiences in both countries and could be used to pull regional actors into the conflict. Media reports need, therefore, to be examined with great caution, because we do not have confirmation of some of the news that has been disseminated.

“At this stage, further escalation of the conflict and involvement of regional actors, unhappily, cannot be excluded. This would seriously threaten the stability of the whole region.

“On the 30th of September, I discussed the situation with the Russian Foreign Minister and I also spoke with the Turkish Foreign Minister – the two regional actors that are closer to the conflict. I emphasised the importance of de-escalation, the importance that regional actors refrain from any activity and rhetoric that could inflame things even further.

“I spoke to the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan during the weekend. I stressed that the increase of civilian casualties is unacceptable. I heard from both sides the actions taken by the other side; each one of them blames the other for starting and for attacking civilian populations, not in Nagorno Karabakh itself, not in the region in dispute, but from Armenia to Azerbaijan and from Azerbaijan to Armenia.

“The fighting should stop. The OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs are going to have meetings this week with the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the two countries, and the only way to get out of this situation is that the Minsk Group Co-chairs pushes for immediate negotiations as soon as possible.

“We will continue working with key partners to try to help stop the hostilities, because the only solution is to go back to the negotiating table. But this negotiation table has been open for the last 30 years without any kind of advance. War is not an alternative; we have to push both parties to stop fighting and start negotiating without preconditions. But this is, for the time being, not the case.

“I am sorry that I cannot inform you more about that, because as I said, the information is very much scarce and we have to take care not to disseminate news that has not been confirmed”.

The intense shelling in the break-away region of Nagorno-Karabakh is taking its toll on the civilian population as fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces showed no signs of halt on October 7.

Clashes between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in the region since September 27 have killed hundreds in the worst escalation of hostilities since 1994 when a truce ended a war that raged for several years. Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised territory of Azerbaijan, but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Yerevan since ethnic cleansing erupted during the process of the collapse of the USSR. The enmity started with pogroms of Armenians on February 27, 1988 in Sumgait city, when Azerbaijan was one of the Soviet Republics. Since Sumgait massacre the relations between Armenians and Azerbaijanies have been suffering a profound malaise, producing a “frozen conflict” with unsolved territorial dispute.

Armenian diplomat accuses Turkey

Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said Yerevan is totally committed to “strictly peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”.
The Minister reminded in an interview to French news Channel, that there is an internationally agreed, internationally mandated format – the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship which comprises France, the United States, and the Russian Federation.

“We are totally committed to this process, to resolve the conflict strictly through peaceful means, and a solution, resolution which is based strictly on a compromise, a solution which is acceptable, in the words of the Prime Minister of Armenia, to the people of Armenia, people of Nagorno-Karabakh, people of Azerbaijan. What we have unfortunately been dealing with is the absolutely maximalist position of Azerbaijan which denies any recognition of the interest and concerns of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and its authorities and the people of Armenia. The maximalist position has been rejected and remains rejected. We are prepared for compromise. However, this massive escalation is bringing in a new situation we have to deal with”.

The Minister added later to another TV channel – Al-Arabya – that “Turkey has positioned itself in very aggressive way against Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. We have been receiving disturbing reports about recruitment of terrorists from areas, which are controlled by Turkey in Syria.”

Taking into consideration the destructive role of President Erdogan in Nagorno-Karabach conflict, Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders, who is the Chairman of the Party for Freedom, has launched a call to end Turkey membership in NATO.

N.Karabach: EU calls to observe ceasefire

“On 27 September 2020, fighting erupted along the Line of Contact in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone, regrettably causing military and civilian casualties”.

“The European Union calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities, de-escalation and for strict observance of the ceasefire”.

“The return to negotiations of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, without preconditions, is needed urgently”.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, during his address to the nation, stated that Azerbaijan has declared war on the entire Armenian people”.

“This morning, Azerbaijan again undertook large-scale provocations. There are casualties and wounded, including among the civilian population. Using heavy weapons, the enemy attacks the positions of the Defense Army of the Republic of Artsakh (the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh – ed.) In all directions. The Defense Army is waging fierce battles, honorably fulfilling the task of protecting Artsakh, ”Pashinyan said (quoted by Interfax).

The Armenian Prime minister also said about the possible conflict beyond the region: “We are on the verge of a large-scale war in the South Caucasus, which may have the most unpredictable consequences. The war can go beyond the borders of the region and have a wider scale. I call on the international community to use all levers and not allow Turkey to get involved in the conflict ”(quoted by TASS).

EU supports OSCE mediation in Belarus crisis

The EU Foreign ministers have been addressing the situation in Belarus during their meeting in Gymnich informal format which took place in Berlin for two days August 27-28.

«The European Union does not recognise the results of the election and considers the actions of the authorities unacceptable» said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell at concluding press-conference.

«We, once again, express our fully support to Belarus’ sovereignty and independence, condemn the violent repression of the Belarusian people and we ask the authorities to engage in an inclusive dialogue to move out of the crisis.

«The important things in concrete terms: First, Belarus being a member of the OSCE, we think that the OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office’s proposal to visit and facilitate a dialogue should be accepted by the authorities. As the European Union, we support this in any way we can.
There was political agreement among Ministers to designate selected individuals responsible for the fraudulent elections in Belarus and for the subsequent crackdown under the existing Belarus sanctions regime. These designations shall include individuals at the high political level.

«Now, the detailed list and the respective legal acts will be prepared by the competent Council Working Groups in the coming days with a view to be adopted [by the Council] as soon as possible.
With regard to that, I have just received a letter signed by 11 members of the Council asking to do it as soon as possible, and pressing for quick decision-making. But we have to do that according to all the legal procedures.

«Finally, we push for a national dialogue that is the only way to see democracy and fundamental freedoms respected in Belarus».

Azerbaijan blocks OSCE representative mandate

Harlem Désir, an influential figure who has worked fearlessly for the protection of the free press, will no longer serve as Representative on Freedom of the Media at OSCE after Azerbaijan and Tajikistan blocked the renewal of his mandate.

For the past three years Désir has been an outspoken representative at the OSCE (Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe). Nowadays his reappointment has been blocked by two of the worst-scoring countries in terms of world press freedom.

International press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said this was the most disruptive behaviour yet from Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.

“The work of the Representative on Freedom of Media is absolutely crucial to the protection of media freedom across the OSCE’s 57 Member States, especially in the worst offenders, including the two States that have now blocked Harlem Désir’s reappointment. They can now effectively evade OSCE scrutiny,” RSF’s Director of International Campaigns, Rebecca Vincent, said.

The blocking of Désir candidacy by the two OSCE participating states raises the question of whether countries with a dramatic record of undermining free press should be allowed to have such power in international fora.

“Azerbaijan has form for this, having behaved similarly disruptively at the Council of Europe for years. How long will these institutions allow themselves to be hijacked by States that don’t share their values?” RSF added.

EU-OSCE against Russia «foreign agent» law

“The State Duma of the Russian Federation this week passed, in the third and final reading, a legislative act widening the scope of the already existing “foreign agent” media law, under which also individuals may be recognised as “foreign agents” says the statement of the European External Action Service spokesperson.

“The European Union has repeatedly said that the existing Russian legislation on labelling both NGOs and media outlets as “foreign agents” imposes additional administrative and financial burden as well as stigmatises the media or NGO concerned, thus restricting the exercise of fundamental freedoms. This practice clearly goes against Russia’s human rights obligations and commitments.

“Taking into account the already limited space for free media in the country, a further extension of the scope of the legislation is yet another worrying step against free and independent media and access to information as well as further attempt to silence independent voices in Russia.

“We support the call by OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media for Russian lawmakers to abandon the law”.

Image above: Moscow, Russia

OSCE records ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk

In Donetsk region, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMMrecorded more ceasefire violations, however, fewer explosions (about 110), compared with the previous reporting period (about 150 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded at southerly directions of Chermalyk (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Mariupol), in areas south of Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk) and in areas south-east of Donetsk city centre. (Image above: illustration).

In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded more ceasefire violations, including more explosions (about 670), compared with the previous reporting period (30 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations, including about 600 explosions, were recorded at southerly and easterly directions of Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk).”

The Ukrainian army has shelled the positions of the militia in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) six times over the past 24 hours, the LPR defense ministry reported.

The shelling targeted the areas of Pervomaisk, the urban-type settlement of Frunze, the villages of Zhelobok and Smeloye,” the LuganskInformCenter news agency quoted a spokesman for the LPR people’s militia as saying.

According to the spokesman, the fire was conducted from mortars.

The Contact Group’s security subgroup agreed to declare a new ‘spring’ ceasefire in Donbass on March 7. It entered into force from the midnight of March 8 according to Kiev time. However, the Ukrainian military broke the truce just five minutes after it had taken effect.

Nagorno Karabakh signal for progress

Exchanges in recent months between the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, and the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, as well as meetings of the Foreign Ministers under the auspices of the Co-Chairs of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, most recently in Paris on 16 January 2019, send a positive signal for progress in the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict” said the statement by the European External Action (EEAS) service spokesperson on recent developments toward the peaceful settlement of the frozen conflict.

“The European Union is looking forward to the full implementation of their outcomes, including the recent Foreign Ministers’ agreement on the need to take concrete measures to prepare the populations for peace, as well as the consideration of steps aimed at reinvigorating the negotiations.

“The European Union continues to fully support the mediation efforts and proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, including through the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, as well as through civil society confidence-building measures across the conflict divide. All would stand to benefit from lasting peace, which would help to enable the South Caucasus region to fulfill its potential.”

Political analyst Stepan Danielyan reminded before the meeting in Paris, that the election thesis of the incumbent Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan on the issue of Nagorno Karabach was Yerevan refusal to conduct negotiations on behalf of Stepanakert. Many voters made their choice based on this thesis, Danielyan underlined.

Now the ministers of foreign affairs of Armenia and Azerbaijan continue negotiations – they are discussing the Karabakh problem. What is discussed is not clear” the expert said. “In the past, Charles de Gaulle deceived the French, promising that France would not leave Algeria, before the elections, but after winning he did the opposite”, but Nagorno Karabakh is not Algeria, and Pashinyan is not de Gaulle, the expert warned.

According to the Armenian prosecutors the military casualties in Nagorno Karabakh in 2018 amounted to 38 servicemen, non-combat losses to 25 people.

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