By Janet Ekstract
NEW YORK- On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a news conference in Mersin, Turkiye that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) decision to send a mission to Armenia is “against OSCE’s operating rules.” Cavusoglu expressed his dismay, explaining that the regional bloc is now a “center of deadlock.” He labeled the decision as “unacceptable” and added that the OSCE “has sided with the occupier” over the past 30 years. Cavusoglu was referring to the longstanding conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The Turkish foreign minister complained that the OSCE-Minsk Group on Karabakh has stalled what he termed as the liberation of occupied Azerbaijani lands for close to 30 years. The Minsk Group, a body that falls under the jurisdiction of the OSCE was assigned to resolve the Karabakh dispute but has had no results, according to Cavusoglu. The OSCE Minsk Group that is co-chaired by France, Russia and the U.S. was created on March 24, 1992 with the purpose of finding a peaceful solution to the conflict. As Cavusoglu explained: “For 30 years, you have not solved the problem and used consensus as an excuse. Now, Now, Azerbaijan’s opinion is not taken when sending observers or any mission to that region. Such a move needs consensus.”
Meanwhile, the OSCE did announce that it plans to send a needs-assessment team to Armenia on Oct. 21-27on the invitation from Yerevan. Last Tuesday, the bloc made it clear there must be an “immediate ceasefire” since the most recent border skirmish between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Since 1991, relations between these two former Soviet republics have been tense when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. In autumn of 2020, Azerbaijan took back several cities, villages and settlements from Armenia during a 44-day series of clashes that resulted in a truce, brokered by Russia. Cavusoglu spoke about Turkiye and Armenia normalizing relations: “Any positive step taken between Azerbaijan and Armenia will also positively reflect on our relations.”