Russian FM hails OSCE work on Nagorny Karabakh conflict

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BRUSSELS, December 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister said Tuesday the experience of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in resolving the Nagorny Karabakh conflict can be used to tackle other post-Soviet conflicts.

The conflict over Nagorny Karabakh, a region in Azerbaijan with a largely Armenian population, first erupted in 1988 when it declared its independence from Azerbaijan, and moved to join Armenia.

"The approach, which is linked to the use of multilateral forums for political support for negotiation formats to resolve this or that conflict, is a good example for other situations, including South Ossetia, Transdnestr and Abkhazia," Sergei Lavrov told journalists, commenting on the OSCE chairman's pledge to make strong progress in resolving the Azerbaijanni-Armenian dispute during 2007.

During the region's conflict between 1988 and 1994, over 30,000 people were killed on both sides. Nagorny Karabakh remained in Armenian hands, but tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia have persisted.

Lavrov said the OSCE Council of Ministers in Brussels had coordinated a statement on Nagorny Karabakh, qualifying it as "comprehensive."

He also said the 56-member OSCE, created as an East-West forum during the Cold War, needs to be reformed in order to continue its existence.

The Russian diplomat said Moscow wants the OSCE to function effectively, and that many countries are ready to help the organization overcome "the current rather serious crisis."

"The OSCE is still failing to find its place in ongoing processes in Europe, in the spheres of trade and economic, investment and energy cooperation," he said, adding that reforms are progressing very slowly.

Russia and others have long accused the OSCE of bias, poor governance and lack of initiative. In mid-2004, they called for sweeping reforms of the bloc, which also monitors elections, human rights, arms proliferation, and democracy.

Russia has repeatedly called for a more active approach from the organization in the fight against terrorism and illicit arms production and sales, and has criticized the OSCE for focusing on secondary issues instead of resolving key security problems.

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