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Switzerland’s presidency may help OSCE win back key role in conflict settlement

January 16, 2014, 20:35 UTC+3 VIENNA
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter said work to look for ways out of unsettled conflicts was among the priority tasks
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© EPA/PETER SCHNEIDER

VIENNA, January 16, 20:23 /ITAR-TASS/. Switzerland, which has assumed the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, may play an important role in OSCE’s winning back its role of a key player in the settlement of regional conflicts, Russia’s permanent representative to the OSCE Andrei Kelin told reporters on Thursday on the sidelines of an OSCE Permanent Council’s session.

The diplomat believes “the Swiss diplomacy has showed its very strong side, it enjoys big influence in Europe,” he said. “We expect Switzerland will play a certain role in giving the OSCE a new value in the next two years,” he said, noting that the organization’s original role was in overcoming demarcation lines.

Speaking at the first session of the Permanent Council this year, Swiss President Didier Burkhalter said work to look for ways out of unsettled conflicts was among the priority tasks. He hoped this year should see reconciliation in the Balkans with the OSCE playing an important role in that, supporting at the same time the implementation of agreements reached between Belgrade and Pristina.

Focusing on the settlement in the mostly Armenian populated Azerbaijani enclave of Nagorno Karabakh, he admitted that the road to a peaceful settlement was long and thorny despite a certain improvement of relations seen over the recent time. The president also said he believed that not only the authorities of Azerbaijan and Armenia should be involved in a dialogue, but also the civil societies of the two states.

As for the conflict around South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in the settlement of which Switzerland is a mediator offering the Geneva floor for discussion, he said it would be important to create a mechanism to prevent incidents. Burkhalter said Switzerland would also seek the resumption of a discussion on the OSCE’s presence in Georgia on condition the countries-participants demonstrated flexibility and a creative approach.

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