The interview of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Eamon Gilmore, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to Armenian News-NEWS.am.
Q.: What are Ireland’s priorities and plans for the second part of 2012?
Our Chairmanship priorities are for the whole year so we are continuing the work we started in the months before we took over the OSCE Chairmanship. One of the reasons for my visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan is to discuss with the political leadership how we can make progress in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
This is an important priority for me. I know well the devastating cost of conflict; it affects not just the people in the proximity of the line of contact, but all citizens. My own country suffered for many years from conflict. I am proud that together with political and community leaders in Ireland and the United Kingdom we turned the conflict into a successful peace process.
During our OSCE Chairmanship we have seen some progress in the Transdniestrian settlement process. Official negotiations resumed at the end of last year and two months ago the sides agreed on the principles and procedures for the conduct of the negotiations. This is an important step.
Another priority is internet freedom. Today the internet is a vital communication tool, allowing billions of people to exercise their freedom of expression. Next week (on 18 June) I am hosting an important conference where politicians, diplomats and experts from civil society and the public and private sectors will discuss how the internet can remain a free and open resource for communication and information in the OSCE region.
In the economic sphere we are continuing to promote security and stability through good governance, with a particular focus on measures to counter corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing. Together with the other OSCE participating States we are exchanging good practices. In April, Ireland presented the work of our Criminal Assets Bureau as a possible model for other countries.
We are half-way into our OSCE Chairmanship and are very focused on not just the next six months but on the future work of the organization. We are working closely with the incoming Ukrainian Chairmanship as well as the future Swiss and Serbian Chairmanships on priorities stretching into 2015.
Q.: Ireland has stated a number of times in the course of its Chairmanship in the OSCE about its readiness to support resolution of frozen conflicts. What steps are possible in this respect, and how do you see the resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in particular?
Escalation of violence is not the answer. The first step is to refrain from the use or threat of force and to abstain from retaliatory measures.
The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs (France, Russia, US) are working hard in strengthening the ceasefire and in finding a negotiated solution and the OSCE Chairmanship fully supports their efforts.
Our experience in Ireland is that it takes a combination of steps in many different areas to make real progress. It is hard and takes leadership and courage from all sides.
The people living in these areas deserve peace and stability, not a fragile and unsustainable status quo.
Q.: In your view, how important it is to create an atmosphere of trust between the sides, and in this context what do you think about the continuous militaristic rhetoric and armament race, as well as the refusal to withdraw snipers from the line of the contact from the side of Azerbaijan?
Building confidence and trust is the only way to have a sustainable resolution of the conflict. This takes time and requires efforts by all sides to create the conditions. This needs to be done in parallel on many levels. There need to be increased people-to-people contacts and clear efforts to preserve places of worship, cultural sites, and cemeteries. There needs to be increased dialogue and communication between the political leadership from all sides. A successful process needs to be inclusive. On the military side there needs to be consistent adherence to the ceasefire agreement. All parties, all actors must refrain from the use or threat of force and from retaliation. As an important step in confidence building and preventing further casualties, the OSCE has been calling repeatedly for both sides to remove snipers from the line of contact and to agree on a mechanism for investigating incidents on the line of contact.
Q.: Statistical data of recent years shows a continuous growth of violations of ceasefire. In this respect, what is the situation with the investigation of incidents on the line of the contact by the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, in line with the agreements reached on a high level?
The Presidents agreed in their meeting in Sochi in March of 2011 to carry out investigations of incidents on the Line of Contact, under the auspices of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs presented a proposal to the sides, but they have still not provided comments to it. Ambassador Kasprzyk has no mandate or the resources to conduct investigation of the violations of the ceasefire.
Q.: In your opinion, how much is it acceptable for one OSCE participating State to try and isolate another OSCE participating State not allowing its participation in regional projects?
The OSCE works to bridge differences between countries and people. Through our work we are promoting co-operation on political, military, economic, environmental and human rights issues as essential elements of security.
Q.: What steps does the Ireland take as an OSCE chair to prevent new conflicts near the OSCE borders – in Syria and Iran?
By strengthening security in the OSCE region we are helping our participating States also strengthen the security in their neighborhood. Other organizations are working on the situation in Syria and on Iran as they are outside of the OSCE region.