Ambassador Pádraig Murphy, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus, on conflict resolution, formulating agreements, and building trust.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the largest regional security organization in the world, uniting 56 participating states across North America, Europe, and Central Asia. The focus of the organization, which was founded in 1975, includes working on conflicts that still exist in the OSCE region, including those in the South Caucasus.
As the Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2012, Ireland is going to work hard to achieve progress toward the peaceful resolution of regional issues, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
When outlining the priorities of the Irish Chairmanship in his address to the OSCE Permanent Council this January, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore, said, “We in Ireland know all too well the devastating cost of conflict. Through negotiation, compromise, and the dedication and imagination of the two governments and leaders on both sides of the divide, a lasting settlement was achieved in relation to Northern Ireland.”
As his Special Representative for the South Caucasus, I will seek to facilitate engagement by all the parties in drafting a lasting settlement of the conflicts in the region, building on Ireland’s own experience, while being aware that no two conflicts are the same. In April 2012, the Irish OSCE Chairmanship will host a conference in Dublin on Northern Ireland as a case study, aiming to draw on themes which may be applicable to conflict situations in the OSCE area. While each conflict situation is different, we hope that by providing information about our experience, the parties involved in other conflicts may find useful insights into how resolutions might be accomplished.
For it is only with the political goodwill of both sides, aided by the cumulative effort of the international community, that tangible progress can be achieved. The OSCE Minsk Group, which is co-chaired by Russia, the US, and France, and includes Belarus, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Turkey, and the OSCE Troika—Lithuania, Ireland and Ukraine in 2012—as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan, is the only established framework for facilitating a political solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We support the efforts of the Minsk Group co-chairs aimed at encouraging the sides to reach the level of agreement on the basic principles of the conflict settlement which will pave the way for the drafting of an official peace agreement.
Having this long-term goal in mind, we must seek to ensure that no further escalation of tensions on the ground takes place. The increasing number of deadly incidents on the line of contact raises serious concerns and calls for urgent measures to effectively strengthen the ceasefire regime, as previously pledged by the two sides. Withdrawing snipers from the line of contact and refraining from the use of threats or force, as well as continuing OSCE monitoring activities, will boost confidence and help ensure security and stability on both sides of the divide.
Another essential step in this direction is to implement the agreement reached by Presidents Aliyev, Sargsyan, and Medvedev last year in Sochi to set up a mechanism to investigate incidents along the line of contact. We believe that the work on the proposals for modalities of such a mechanism drafted by the Minsk Group’s co-chairs and the personal representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, which has been with the sides for some time, provides the basis for the achievement of concrete results this year.
We are aware of the internal political processes in both countries and that the focus of public attention will affect the upcoming 2013 presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as parliamentary elections in Armenia in May 2012. Every candidate should refrain from using the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a campaigning issue so that it does not undermine the effectiveness of international efforts aimed at conflict resolution and building trust between the sides. This process will be further complicated by the elections in all of the Minsk Group co-chairing countries. We must not let the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict slip in the agenda of the international community.
Confidence building is not only about the military; to a large degree it is also about promoting people-to-people contact. I welcome the statement by the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan on January 23, 2012 regarding the development of humanitarian contact across the divide, and the readiness to facilitate continued efforts to develop dialogue between their countries’ intelligentsia, and academic and public circles. The Irish Chairmanship is ready, in cooperation with the OSCE as a whole, to support these efforts.Track two diplomacy is another sphere that needs to be strengthened in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process. While high-level negotiations continue, it is crucial to assure them of broad public support and this is where grass-roots activities pertaining to conflict resolution can make a great contribution.
In the OSCE’s engagement with the South Caucasus, building trust and bridging differences at the international level go hand in hand with promoting confidence between people and the authorities within the countries of the region. The OSCE Office in Baku and the OSCE Office in Yerevan have been working there since 2000. Their tasks currently do not include matters related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement. Through the OSCE’s field operations in the South Caucasus, they promote the implementation of their commitments, to improve the conditions in its very large area of operation.
It has been rightly said that one makes peace with one’s enemies. In other words, the negotiations that give rise to resolution take place between the parties involved. The effort of the OSCE as an organization is to encourage, promote, and facilitate this negotiation. We hope that we will make progress towards this goal in 2012.
Written in January, 2012
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