YEREVAN — The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly President Christine Muttonen (MP, Austria) and Special Representative on the South Caucasus Kristian Vigenin (MP, Bulgaria) expressed regret about the announcement this week that it had not been possible to reach agreement to extend the mandate of the OSCE’s Office in Yerevan, reported the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on Thursday, May 4.
The Office is expected to close in the coming months.
“I regret the fact that despite lengthy and extensive efforts, the Permanent Council has been unable to reach consensus on the continuation of the OSCE Office in Yerevan’s important work,” Muttonen said. “The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has repeatedly called for OSCE field operations to be given robust mandates and all the resources they need to allow them to perform their vital tasks, and yet, regrettably, another field operation is being closed.”
According to a story from Azatutyun (RFE/RL), the Azerbaijani delegation to the OSCE headquarters in Vienna insisted in a January statement that the program “can strengthen the capacity and skills of relevant Armenian structures” in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It accused Armenia of seeking to “misuse the OSCE Office in Yerevan against legitimate interests of Azerbaijan.”
Armenia shrugged off those allegations. It said that Baku is simply keen to force the closure of the Yerevan office after having a similar OSCE office in Baku shut down in 2015. OSCE decisions on opening such missions and extending their activities have to be unanimously approved by all 57 member states of the organization.
Baku did not drop its objections even after the Armenian government agreed later in January to exclude demining from a wide range of OSCE activities in Armenia. That prompted a stern warning from the United States, with a senior US diplomat saying in February that the closure of the Yerevan office would “reflect poorly on Azerbaijan.”