By Armen Zakarian
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe wants to revive the stalled Nagorno-Karabakh peace process through its Minsk Group, the OSCE's chairman in office said on Tuesday, ending a visit to Armenia. Jaime Gama, who is also Portugal's foreign minister, said after talks with Armenian and Karabakh leaders that it is high time for the group, co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States, to hammer out a peace accord.
"The OSCE is very keen to revitalize the peace process because it's been ten years since the Minsk Group's creation and we need concrete results," Gama told reporters.
The Karabakh issue dominated Gama's talks in Yerevan with President Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian. The Portuguese minister also met with Arkady Ghukasian, president of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh republic. Ghukasian said after the meeting that he sees a good chance of further progress in peace talks this year.
According to Oskanian, the three Minsk Group co-chairs will arrive in the region "in the coming days" with new peace proposals. He said he discussed with Gama "possible developments resulting from their visit." But both men made it clear that they did not concentrate on the content of the new proposals.
"They (the co-chairs) will be the ones to detail the mechanisms they have been elaborating for such a long time," Gama explained.
The broader situation in the South Caucasus was another key subject of the talks. The OSCE head, who arrived in Yerevan on Monday on the first leg of a regional tour, welcomed the planned dispatch of U.S. special troops to Georgia. Washington's decision to train and equip Georgian forces for operations against Islamic guerrillas reportedly entrenched in the lawless Pankisi Gorge will "reinforce security in the region," Gama said. He also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for effectively withdrawing Moscow's initial objections to U.S. military presence in Georgia.
Gama is scheduled to visit on Wednesday OSCE observers deployed on the
border between Georgia and Chechnya. Russia and the U.S. claim that members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network have found refuge in that area.