OSCE Chairman-in-Office: The political will to resolve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict must come from the parties themselves – EXCLUSIVE

OSCE Chairman-in-Office: The political will to resolve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict must come from the parties themselves – <font color=red>EXCLUSIVE </font>
# 22 February 2008 13:57 (UTC +04:00)
-What are the priorities of Finland as a country chairing OSCE in 2008?
-The theme of the Finnish Chairmanship is Continuity, Coherence and Co-operation. Among our objectives is to strengthen the OSCE’s capacity to act. We also aim to create enabling conditions for the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts by activating existing negotiation mechanisms and by encouraging all of the parties to resume negotiations to find feasible political resolutions to the conflicts. We will also strengthen the status of the OSCE as a regional security organization that promotes openness, transparency and co-operation in politico-military issues by deepening the security dialogue among OSCE participating States. In the economic and environmental fields, we will increase security and protect the environment through focusing the OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum process on maritime and inland waterways co-operation in the OSCE area. Finland will also emphasize respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, implementation of the rule of law and strengthening democratic governance. Particular priorities are combating trafficking in human beings, promoting tolerance and non-discrimination, in particular with regard to Roma and Sinti, as well as gender mainstreaming in all OSCE activities.
-How can Finland help to solve the so called “frozen conflicts” in the OSCE area, particularly Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? Does Finland have any new proposals for the conflict parties and what are they?
The Finnish Chairmanship has put the so called frozen or protracted conflicts in the OSCE area at the top of our agenda. As a Chair of the OSCE, Finland will give its full support to the Minsk Group Co-Chairs in their continuous efforts towards conflict resolution. We also consider the activities of the Chairman-in-Office’s Personal Representative important. I have already visited Moldova in January and I intend to visit Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia at the end of February. My Special Envoy, Heikki Talvitie, will also work actively to support the existing conflict-resolution structures and to promote conflict resolution. However, the political will to resolve the conflict must come from the parties themselves. We call for political courage from the leaders.
-There are a number of problems with media freedom in OSCE region. What does Finland propose to solve this problem? Some of the journalists were released after President Ilham Aliyev’s order late in 2007, but three are still in prison. How is Finland going to pressurize that situation?
-Though the pardoning of some journalists in December was a welcome step towards improving and normalizing the media situation in the country, I call on the authorities to release those journalists who remain in detention. In addition, swift progress is needed on legal reforms that would prevent the criminalization of journalistic work and allow the media to report on issues of public interest without fear of prosecution. Decriminalization of libel and defamation is a necessary step that I hope will come soon. The OSCE is ready to further support the Government of Azerbaijan to fulfil its OSCE commitments with regard to freedom of the media.
-Presidential elections will be held in Azerbaijan in autumn, 2008. What is OSCE going to do to make this election free and fair?
It is for the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure that the election is conducted in line with OSCE commitments. The ODIHR is currently assisting the government with improving the electoral framework. We look forward to an early invitation to observe the elections.
The OSCE is an organisation that is based on cooperation, not confrontation. We will continue to engage with the Azerbaijani authorities with a view to improving the conduct of elections. The government has committed itself to follow-up on recommendations made in previous election observation reports. It is not too late to put this commitment into practice, and the OSCE is willing to do what it can to assist with such efforts.
-Do you think that Ǻland model is good one for the unresolved conflicts? And is it possible to use it for the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
-Finland has presented the Ǻland model on a number of occasions as a model for conflict resolution, including for the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The model applied for the Ǻland islands is a very democratic one. However, it is up to the parties to make use of it or not, taking into consideration the peculiarities of each conflict.