YEREVAN, January 16. / ARKA /. Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter today pledged to seize the opportunities offered by the OSCE as he outlined priorities for the Swiss Chairmanship of the Organization at the first Permanent Council in Vienna.
Burkhalter called on representatives of the OSCE’s 57 participating States to draw from the lessons of the First World War: “Peace should never be taken for granted. We must not become complacent about peace but rather construct and secure it through constant dialogue, confidence-building and collective efforts to boost mutual understanding.”
He added that the OSCE was well-positioned to respond to the “troubling signs of new rifts between the East and the West” as it serves as a forum for dialogue, actively works in the field with common action on the ground and offers a “common roof” over the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian regions.
2014 should be the year for reconciliation in the Western Balkans, with the OSCE advancing regional cooperation and playing a supporting role in the implementation of the Belgrade-Pristina agreement, he said. Protracted conflicts in the South Caucasus, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the consequences of August 2008 conflict in Georgia, and the Transdniestrian settlement process were also high on the agenda, Burkhalter said.
“We are well aware that progress may not come overnight, and that no settlement will be feasible unless the parties are committed. However, we firmly believe that it is not an option to simply wait and see,” he added.
This is the second Swiss Chairmanship in the OSCE; previously, Switzerland was at helm of the Organization in 1996. -0-