OSCE presidency to continue on track, Finnish foreign minister says

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Materials 10 April 2008 16:05 (UTC +04:00)
OSCE presidency to continue on track, Finnish foreign minister says

(dpa) - Finland's new foreign minister said Thursday finding solutions to the frozen conflicts in the region of the former Soviet Union remained core to his country's chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE).

"I came here to convey a message of continuity," Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said, stressing the importance Finland placed on its OSCE chairmanship by making the Vienna-based organization destination of his first trip since taking office on April 4.

"My aim is to re-energize efforts towards peaceful settlement of these conflicts. I sincerely hope that the efforts ... are met with constructive engagement by all parties," Stubb added.

He expressed concern over recent events in Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan and the Georgian breakaway region South Ossetia and appealed to all parties to refrain from violence.

"The OSCE needs to focus on the issues where it can make a real difference," Stubb told delegates from the OSCE's 57 member states, urging them to cooperate on the question of Kosovo, despite "diverging views" by member states, which include Russia, Serbia, as well as the United States and all members of the European Union.

Finland holds the rotating one-year chairmanship of the OSCE, the world's largest regional security body, in 2008.

Stubb's predecessor Ilkka Kanerva was forced to resign over a scandal following him sending suggestive text messages to a stripper.

The minister was expected to discuss bilateral issues in a meeting with his Austrian counterpart Ursula Plassnik later on Thursday.