The Ministers discussed a number of issues of concern to the OSCE, among them the conflict in Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, as well as the overall situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The Ministers expressed their deep concern for the deteriorating situation in Chechnya, the Russian Federation, particularly the extremely worrying humanitarian situation in that Republic. They also called for the respect of international humanitarian obligations. Also mentioned were the worrying implications of the conflict for neighbouring Republics of the Russian Federation. The Ministers reiterated that a lasting solution to the conflict can only be achieved through a political dialogue, recalling the readiness of the OSCE to assist in this respect.
The Ministers discussed the current situation at the border between Georgia and the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, following the OSCE Permanent Council decision to expand the mandate of the OSCE Mission to Georgia with the monitoring of that border. They noted that the implementation of that decision is proceeding well.
The Ministers welcomed the continued direct dialogue on Nagorno-Karabakh between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan and expressed their appreciation for the work of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. In case of an agreement, the OSCE would stand ready to play an important role in its implementation.
The Ministers assessed positively the OSCE activities in Kosovo and discussed the preparations for the local elections in that province. With regard to the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Ministers agreed that the reintegration of FRY into the OSCE is necessary, but can take place only on the basis of a thorough democratization process.
The necessity to expand co-operation with the countries of Central Asia was seen as one of the priorities of the coming year. The Ministers discussed the development of a strategy for deepening the co-operation between the OSCE and the Governments of the Central Asian countries in all OSCE fields of activities. This strategy should reflect the striving towards a global approach to security -- including democratization and human rights as well as economic and environmental issues.
Another issue under discussion at today?s meeting was the OSCE Regional Approach in Southeastern Europe. The Ministers stressed the importance of taking concrete steps during the coming year to further develop this regional concept.
The Ministers also reviewed progress made in the development of the REACT-concept (Rapid Expert Assistance and Co-operation Teams), which was launched at the OSCE Istanbul Summit on 19 November 1999. The REACT concept foresees the rapid deployment of experts on civilian crisis management whenever and wherever the need arises within the OSCE area.
OSCE Press and Public Information Section
Kartner Ring 5-7
A-1010 Vienna, Austria
tel: +43 1/514 36 180