We are Approaching Time for a Major Decision on Future Status of Kosovo: OSCE Secretary-General

We are Approaching Time for a Major Decision on Future Status of Kosovo: OSCE Secretary-General

Azerbaijan, Baku / corr Trend A.Gasimova, A.Badalova / Trend ' interview withMarc Perrin de Brichambaut,the OSCE Secretary General, who plans to tour Azerbaijan in October

Question: What projects do you consider to be most successfully realized and in what spheres does work need to be continued?

Answer: The OSCE as a project itself is our greatest success. Please recall when this project was launched in the 1970s. The OSCE project then helped to ensure that the end of the Cold War happened peacefully and then set the framework for the construction of a new post-Cold War Europe.

In this, the OSCE has always been guided by the spirit of Helsinki that led to the signing of the Final Act in 1975 in the Finnish capital. The spirit of Helsinki is the desire to overcome differences between the countries of Europe, to find common ground between states, and to deepen contacts between the peoples across Europe. It is also the desire to lay the ground rules for forging greater co-operation between states and societies. And that spirit is also a pledge to work for consensus through permanent engagement and constant dialogue. In all these aspects, the spirit of Helsinki remains vibrant today, however difficult the context.

Historic changes have occurred across the OSCE; the face of the continent has changed dramatically. Yet much work remains to be done - problems remain in the Balkans, in the protracted conflicts, in strengthening states and democratic institutions, and in fortifying healthy societies.

New political challenges have surfaced not least intra-state conflicts and ethnic tensions in many participating States. Many other new challenges have appeared, such as the tremendous problem generated by human trafficking and the new security threats emanating from terrorism and organized crime.

Our mission statement says: "The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe works for stability, prosperity and democracy in 56 states through political dialogue about shared values and through practical work that makes a lasting difference."

We have achieved a lot already, but we have much work ahead of us. The spirit of Helsinki and a clear sense of mission will continue to guide the states and peoples of the greater Europe that the OSCE represents.

Question: The OSCE Minsk has been involved in the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement for already more than ten years. How do you see further ways of resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of maintaining Azerbaijan's territorial integrity?

Answer: I would recall that the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan could not reach an agreement on the ?basic principles? on the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at their latest meeting in St. Petersburg on 9 June this year. Even though next year there will be important elections in both countries - presidential elections in Armenia in February 2008 and presidential elections in Azerbaijan in October 2008 - at the meeting in St. Petersburg in June both sides expressed their willingness to continue negotiations.

The Minsk Group Co-chairs will also continue their efforts to assist the process in moving forward. In July a meeting with the Armenian Foreign Minister took place in Paris and a meeting with the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister has been scheduled for August this year. Likewise the Co-chairs will continue their shuttle diplomacy to the region to explore the possibilities for arranging another meeting between Presidents Aliyev and Kocharian, possibly by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, it is increasingly important to urge the parties to actively engage in confidence-building measures that will help build trust and understanding between them in the coming months.

The OSCE continues to closely observe the situation on the Line of Contact and on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Monitoring of the Line of Contact also constitutes an important confidence-building measure and has often been instrumental in reducing tension on the ground.

Question: The problem of the Kosovo settlement is the focus of attention in the international community. In your opinion, may the Kosovo situation act as a precedent for separatist regimes in various countries worldwide?

Answer: Indeed, the situation in Kosovo is in the centre of OSCE's attention as well. Let me recall that we operate the biggest OSCE field presence in Kosovo. It is actively involved in institution and capacity building, monitoring of human and minority rights, democratization, rule of law and elections. We are approaching the time for a major decision on the future status of Kosovo. The OSCE is a status-neutral organization; we have managed over the years to maintain an unbiased position, and we are regarded by all Kosovo communities as such. However, being unbiased does not mean a lack of commitment. On the contrary, while the OSCE is not directly involved in status negotiations we are contributing to the process creating conditions on the ground for the implementation of the status settlement, whatever this might be. In addition, we are ready to stay in Kosovo regardless of its future status.

The question of the future status of Kosovo has no simple solution. That is why we support efforts to find a just and lasting formula which will contribute to the stability of the region. No one can be perfectly happy with every aspect of the future status settlement - that is the nature of compromise. One should also not exclude that separatist regimes might try to use the Kosovo situation as a precedent to serve their purposes, even though each conflict has its own dynamic, history and specific features and therefore would require a different approach and solution. It is hoped that a solution (a compromise solution if at all possible) to the Kosovo future status settlement will in the end be sanctioned by a new Resolution of the UN Security Council.

Question: What is your opinion regarding the US plans to place a missile-defense system in Europe? In your opinion, may this anti-Iran policy affect the stability in the South Caucasus countries?

Answer: US plans in this regard are not part of OSCE business. However, ensuring confidence and deepening political-military security across greater Europe is at the heart of the OSCE mission. In this sense, it is only natural the issue of US preparations have been discussed in OSCE meetings this year. The US has made great efforts to explain its position, which is appreciated by its partners in the OSCE, and I am sure these efforts will continue. The OSCE is founded on the premise of indivisible security, meaning the security of one state should not be enhanced at the cost of the security of another state. This premise remains valid today.

Question: How do you assess the results of the Turkish parliamentary elections? How will these elections and the unanimous victory of Rejeb Tayyup Erdogan assist in developing relations between Turkey and the EU?

Answer: It is not for me to comment on relations between Turkey and the EU. I only wish to say that Turkey is a key player in the OSCE, as it has always been. Turkey is an actor of conviction in the OSCE, and its contribution is deeply valued by other participating States and by the OSCE institutions.

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