Didier Burkhalter: Status quo is not an option

Karen Ghazaryan
Public Radio of Armenia

The status quo is not an option in the current situation, and we must try to move step by step to a peaceful settlement, OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Swiss President Didier Burkhalter declared at a joint press conference with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in Yerevan.

Mr. Burkhalter expressed gratitude for Armenia’s support to Switzerland in all stages of its chairmanship of the OSCE. He said Switzerland is an unbiased country and will keep the same impartiality throughout its chairmanship.

At a meeting in Yerevan earlier today the Presidents of the two countries discussed the Karabakh issue. “I reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to finding a solution to this complex issue as soon as possible. We agree that the conflict can’t be resolved by means of war; on the contrary, it will become more complicated. The threats of use of force and the regular violations of the ceasefire greatly hinder the negotiation process,” Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said.

Didier Burkhalter noted, in turn, that “the Swiss Chairmanship will try to reinforce the ceasefire regime and encourage a mechanism to investigate the border incidents, which has been welcomed by all parties, but has not been implemented.”

The OSCE Chairman-in-Office said their objective is to promote dialogue, first of all between the Presidents as suggested by French President Francois Hollande. “We fully support the initiative, which means that a new meeting between the Presidents can and must become the start of a new stage, where new constructive negotiations could lead to the conclusion of a peace deal,” Mr. Burkhalter said. He said Switzerland is ready to provide support to the parties of the conflict even after it quits OSCE Chairmanship.  

“We can provide support to encourage improvement of the peace atmosphere, particularly through people-to-people contacts and assistance to discussions on environmental issues,” the Swiss President added.

President Sargsyan noted, in turn, that “the primary confidence-building measure is, inter alia, the demonstration of proper respect towards the people of Nagorno Karabakh.”  “At last, this is a national liberation struggle for exercising the fundamental right to self-determination and any solution that ignores this reality is doomed to failure. We strongly believe that in order for it to be effective, every negotiation effort and process should take into account the position and opinion of the Nagorno Karabakh people,” he added.

The Presidents  agree that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship is the most optimal format to resolve that conflict.

President Sargsyan expressed  gratitude to Mr. Burkhalter for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Swiss Parliament, Switzerland’s devotion to universal values, as well as for its unbending commitment to promoting those values.

“We stated that because of Turkey’s lack of commitment the Armenian-Turkish protocols mediated by the Swiss Confederation have been frozen up to the present day. In any case, we appreciate the role Switzerland played in that complicated process. I am sure that Turkey’s illegal blockade of Armenia should always remain in the focus of all international organizations, including the OSCE,” the President concluded.

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