YEREVAN (A.W.)— On May 30, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Secretary General Lamberto Zannier held meetings with Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian in Yerevan.
In separate meetings with the President and Foreign Minister, Zannier discussed the possibilities for continued cooperation between Armenia and the OSCE following the discontinuation of the organization’s Yerevan office and expressed his regret about its closure.
The OSCE Secretary General also noted that his visit to Yerevan is a sign of the OSCE’s interest in continuing the organization’s engagement with Armenia in line with existing OSCE commitments across all three security dimensions—the politico-military, the economic and environmental, and the human dimensions.
“I would like to see the achievements of the office preserved and built upon as far as possible,” Zannier said.
In a joint press conference with Zannier, Armenian Foreign Minister Nalbandian welcomed the secretary general and the possibility of additional involvement of the OSCE in Yerevan. Nalbandian also stated that Azerbaijan abused its right to veto to block the extension of the Yerevan Office because this act contradicts the vision and goals of the OSCE.
According to Nalbandian, the two also discussed the recent elections in Armenia as well as the assessment of the international observers that monitored the elections.
During the question and answer session, Nalbandian told reporters that the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group are expected to visit early June.
“I am not sure whether Azerbaijan will be ready for a visit, but the three Co-Chairs will be visiting Yerevan and Stepanakert in ten days,” said Nalbandian.
When asked whether the May 19 OSCE statement will impact Azerbaijan’s aggression, Nalbandian responded that this statement was the first time that the Co-Chairs pointed out that it’s Azerbaijani violating the ceasefire and opening fire.
“Azerbaijan has constantly been against the creation of an investigation mechanism since it would allow the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs or others involved in the process to point out the party violating the ceasefire agreement,” said Nalbandian, “However, the statement pointing out their violation shows it’s possible even without the mechanism.”
In Zannier’s meeting with President Sarkisian, similar issues, including the Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh) conflict and its settlement through peaceful process under the auspices of the OSCE Minks Group were discussed.
The closure of the OSCE Office in Yerevan followed months of negotiations and extensive efforts by the 2016 German Chairmanship and the current Austrian Chairmanship to resolve the deadlock on the extension of the office’s mandate.
During the office’s operation, Zannier visited to meet with staff and pay tribute to their professional work. It had been established in 2000 and its activities included assistance to police reforms and support for reviewing the national regulatory frameworks affecting business activity and the lives of citizens.