The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Special Representative on the South Caucasus, Kristian Vigenin (MP, Bulgaria), concluded a two-day visit to Azerbaijan yesterday, calling particular attention to the continued impact that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is having on people in the region.
In Baku, the Special Representative met with senior officials including the Speaker of the Parliament of Azerbaijan Ogtay Asadov, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Araz Azimov, Members of the Azerbaijani Delegation to the OSCE PA, Members of the Foreign and Inter-parliamentary Affairs Committee, and members of parties represented in parliament, as well as representatives of civil society. On Monday Vigenin travelled to Masazir region to meet with people displaced by the conflict.
“We must never forget that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict continues to result in casualties – this status quo is simply unacceptable,” said Vigenin. “I plan to continue working to keep this tragic reality high on the agenda of political leaders here in the region and internationally. We cannot allow ourselves to be complacent about saving lives.”
The visit to Azerbaijan by the Special Representative is the first leg in a week-long visit to the South Caucasus which includes visits to Georgia and Armenia.
The Special Representative reiterated that there is no military solution to the conflict, expressing his support for the mediation efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. He called on all sides to stop aggressive rhetoric and to make space for more constructive efforts for peace.
“There is a tendency for the world to wake up to the conflict each time there is a major escalation in hostilities, but peace cannot be achieved with occasional efforts. Dedicated attention at the highest levels is necessary to summon the political will necessary for a lasting peace,” he said.
Welcoming plans for a meeting between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the near future, Vigenin stressed that while the final responsibility for finding a resolution to the conflict lies with the Governments of the two countries, greater international attention can help support peace efforts. He noted that there can be a constructive parliamentary dimension to conflict resolution.
Vigenin will report on the regional visit to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Standing Committee on 4 October, and will outline concrete proposals for future engagement in the region.
Vigenin was appointed Special Representative in February 2016 by the President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. In his mandate, he is tasked with promoting dialogue in all segments of society, in particular at the parliamentary level, in order to encourage reconciliation and rehabilitation with regard to the protracted conflicts in the region.
This week’s visit is part of a range of activities he is undertaking in his role as Special Representative. Vigenin is a former Foreign Minister of Bulgaria and currently serves as Deputy Head of the delegation to the OSCE PA.