Stand-off in Vienna as Azerbaijan tries to change the mandate of the OSCE Office in Baku.

A meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in the...

A meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in the Hofburg in Vienna, Austria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The diplomatic row between Azerbaijan and the OSCE regarding the mandate of the OSCE Office in Baku went public last week in Vienna.On 14 May 2013, whilst in Vienna accompanying President Ilham Aliev who was on a state visit to Austria, the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, took time to address formally the representatives of the 57 participating States of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) at a meeting of the Organisation’s Permanent Council.

Couched in diplomatic language the Minister’s speech, and the response to it from many of the diplomats present, highlighted a serious stand-off on the issue of the role of the Office of the OSCE in Baku. The office was established in 1999 and was seen as an important mechanism to accompany Azerbaijan’s programme of reforms aimed at bringing it in line with OSCE commitments.

Over the recent months Azerbaijan has been asking for the mandate of the office to change, in practise reducing its role to that of a technical office. Since the budget of the office is part of the OSCE budget, and since the budget needs to be approved by consensus by all the member states Azerbaijan has been hinting that it may veto the whole budget unless its request is satisfied.

This is only one of many issues that have emerged over the last year in Azerbaijan’s relations with the EU and other countries as a result of a crack-down against all form of dissent in the country.

read the current mandate of the OSCE office in Baku here.OSCE Baku office mandate More…

OSCE-EU – A relationship that needs to be fine-tuned.

The President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy (r) greets OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier during the latter’s official visit to the EU, Brussels, 10 April 2013. Picture courtesy of the European Union

The President of the European Council Herman Van
Rompuy (r) greets OSCE Secretary General Lamberto
Zannier during the latter’s official visit to the EU,
Brussels, 10 April 2013.
Picture courtesy of the European Union

The current challenging political and economic environment calls for focused international response, said OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy during their meeting on 10 April 2013.

According to the web portal they discussed a wide range of issues related to the European security dialogue, including the role the OSCE can play as a forum to build bridges between different countries to create a Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community. They also exchanged views on regional issues on the OSCE agenda including recent developments related to the protracted conflicts. In Brussels the Secretary General also met with Commissioner Štefan Füle responsible for enlargement and European neighbourhood policy and senior officials from the European External Action Service.

Whilst the EU and the OSCE are two organisations that are very different in nature they face many common challenges and the overlap of membership of the 27 EU member states who form nearly half the membership of the OSCE calls for a more harmonised and more focused relationship. Nowhere is this more the case than in the South Caucasus where the two organisations are involved in multiple ways on wide spectrum of issues involving Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, from conflict resolution to democracy and human rights issues. More…

Thirty-two European governments express concern about human rights situation in Azerbaijan.

osce flagsAt the 941st meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) held in Vienna on Thursday, 14 February  2013 a statement was made on behalf of the twenty-seven member states of the European Union and on behalf of  Croatia, Montenegro, Iceland, Bosnia-Herzogovina and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia who aligned themselves with it, expressing concern about recent developments in Azerbaijan in the field of human rights. More…

Empowering women politicians in Armenia.

On Wednesday 25 July, Ambassador Andrey Sorokin, head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan announced a series of activities designed to encourage and increase the participation of women in Armenian public life. “Promoting women’s participation in economic and political spheres as well as inclusion in public life is an essential factor for ensuring democratic advancement. The positive effect women’s participation has on stability and security throughout society is undeniable,” said Sorokin. More…

International Community calls on Georgia to ensure media freedom, says government is failing to protect journalists.

In light of recent violent incidents against journalists, both the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Amnesty International have called on the Georgian government to uphold the rights and freedom of the media, and investigate thoroughly acts of aggression, and intimidation against representatives of the media. More…

OSCE considers future of election observation.

The Irish Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), together with the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), on 12 and 13 July convened in Vienna a supplementary Human Dimensions Meeting of the organisation, to discuss democratic elections and elections observation. The OSCE Human Dimension Meetings focus primarily on issues of human rights and democratisation, and are meant to provide a space for interaction between the fifty six member states of the organisation and their civil society. NGOs are invited to participate and speak in the meetings. More…