OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier is in Armenia to bid farewell to the staff of the OSCE Office in Yerevan.
“We are here because, unfortunately, we have been unable to reach a consensus and extend the mandate of the OSCE’s Office in Yerevan. We have to end our work with Armenia,” the official said during a press conference with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.
The office has faced an uncertain future since Baku vetoed late last year a further extension of its mandate, objecting to a humanitarian demining program implemented by it in Armenia. However, the move will not hinder the organization from cooperating with Armenia. “The OSCE will continue to stay involved here [in the region],” said Lamberto Zannier.
Edward Nalbandian said in turn, “Abusing its right to veto, Azerbaijan forced the closure of the Yerevan office, blocking the renewal of its mandate. Baku attempted to present this within Azerbaijan-Armenia dimension, while in reality it is related to the OSCE-Azerbaijan relations.
Azerbaijan had a similar OSCE office shut down in Baku in 2015. Anyway, the OSCE Chairmanship did not give a relevant assessment to Baku’s steps.
“The OSCE is governed [in its work] by the consensus rule and we never point our finger at the side that breaches the agreement. I regret the closure of the office and we are trying to find ways to continue our work here. But we need to discuss some financial issues,” the OSCE Secretary General said.
For the first time, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs have voiced direct targeted criticism this year, urging Azerbaijan not to violate the ceasefire on the line of contact. But it did not prevent Baku from escalating the situation on the border with Artsakh.
“It is about the time that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries passed from words to concrete actions,” the Armenian FM said.