Azerbaijan, Baku, June 30 / Trend , E.Ostapenko/
Azerbaijan plays a critical role in helping to promote security and stability in the South Caucasus and the whole OSCE area, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Dora Bakoyannis believes.
"As was clear from our discussions in Corfu, we have made progress towards building a "Europe whole and free and at peace" but much work remains to be done, and new security challenges will test our commitment to indivisible security. I look forward to continuing the dialogue we began so fruitfully in Corfu on this visit," Foreign Minister of Greece Bakoyannis said.
Bakoyannis's visit to Azerbaijan as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office comes at a time of formidable challenges and great opportunities for the organization, Bakoyannis's statement.
Protracted conflicts continue to cast a shadow over the region, a fact of which you are all too aware. But here too we have seen progress. Ahead of Corfu, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyrov and Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan and the Minsk Group Co-Chairs met in Paris. This meeting follows five meetings between President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan just this year, the statement said.
"I am encouraged by the latest developments in the negotiation process, and the constructive discussions that have taken place. There is a positive momentum in the discussions, which is vital to build upon. I fully support the mediation efforts of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs, as well as the confidence-building work of my Personal Representative Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk," Bakoyannis said.
But incidents on the ground remain a concern, she added. Bakoyannis urged both sides to fully implement the ceasefire agreement and to withdraw snipers from the line of contact, as proposed by the Co-Chairs.
"I am also encouraged by Azerbaijan's dialogue with the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the intention to have a dialogue with the international community including the OSCE. I hope Azerbaijan and the OSCE can work together further, to improve the legal media environment and to ensure that the law on NGOs also meets international standards," Bakoyannis said.
Open dialogue, a robust civil society and a free press are critical to the democratic process, and represent key commitments that we as OSCE participating States have signed up to. The OSCE and its Office in Baku, which has enjoyed excellent co-operation with Azerbaijan in a wide range of activities, from community policing to election legislation, stand ready to support the country's efforts to further democratic reforms. The OSCE also stands ready to further assist Azerbaijan to build on the progress shown in last year's presidential election ahead of the municipal elections in December and the parliamentary elections next year, the statement said.
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