Monday, July 04, 2005

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Discusses Karabakh

A1 Plus reports that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is holding its Parliamentary Assembly in Washington. Not surprisingly, the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh appeared to be high on the agenda.
Swedish MP Göran Lennmarker, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on the Nagorno Karabakh Conflict, today presented his report to Heads of Delegations to the OSCE PA. The Report spells out his ideas on how to promote a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict within the ongoing OSCE Minsk peace process.
The conflict between the Armenians and Azerbaijanis over the region of Nagorno Karabakh broke out more than a decade ago, leaving territories occupied and resulting in displaced people living under miserable conditions on both sides. Although a ceasefire was established in 1994, the conflict remains unsolved.

Mr. Lennmarker stresses that "the conflict is not frozen. Several people are killed along the line-of-contact every year." He adds: "there is no alternative to a peaceful solution - in fact there is an urgent need to solve the conflict in order to end the personal, economic, and social suffering on both sides of this conflict."
According to Lenmarker, communication between the two parliamentary delegations within the framework of the OSCE should be encouraged. "Once a peace agreement has been finalized by the two Governments, the parliamentary dimension becomes invaluable in informing the public and in ensuring its implementation," he said. "It is of utmost importance that networks of parliamentarians already exist and stand ready to take on these tasks."

Of course, while many outside observers are reported to be encouraged by recent progress in ongoing talks between the Presidents and Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, others remain skeptical that either side has the political will to make the "painful concessions" necessary for a resolution of the conflict. From today's report by RFE/RL, this seems to be particularly evident on the Azerbaijani side.
The delegation heads blocked a long list of amendments to the resolution that were put forward by an Azerbaijani parliamentarian. They referred to Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan, demanded “unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan,” and urged Armenia to “stop the continuation of the settlement of civilian populations” in those areas.
It's also interesting to note that if democratic development in Armenia has stalled, opposition groups are very much involved in international processes. Artashes Geghamian, the outspoken and contraversial leader of the opposition National Unity party, for example, was also present at the Parliamentary Assembly and is quoted in the RFE/RL report.

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