Baku/24.06.20/Turan: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan blocked the preliminary package of the decision of the Permanent Council of the OSCE to appoint for the next three-year term the OSCE Secretary General; Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights; the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and High Commissioner for National minority.
The decisions included the appointment by the OSCE member countries of all of the above OSCE leadership positions in one common package. In a note of protest sent to the OSCE Permanent Council, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry expressed its disagreement with the appointment for the next three-year term of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, French diplomat Arles Desir. The Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan explains its position by the fact that during his first three-year mandate, which began on July 18, 2017, Desir showed excessive criticism about the situation with freedom of speech in Azerbaijan.
Considering that the decision-making process of the OSCE Permanent Council is based on consensus, the actions of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry may leave the OSCE leadership decapitated until September this year, when members of the Permanent Council returning from their summer vacations can fully hold their meetings in Vienna, where the organization’s headquarters are located.
The draft new decision will most likely provide for the appointment to these senior positions separately, but according to available information, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Albania (Albania presides over the OSCE Ministerial Council in 2020) has not yet submitted a draft new decision on the appointment of high-level OSCE representatives.
The OSCE Permanent Council is the main decision-making body for conducting regular political consultations and for managing the day-to-day operational activities of the OSCE between the meetings of the OSCE Ministerial Council. Typically, meetings of the Permanent Council are held once a week in Vienna. The Chairman-in-Office or his / her representative convenes and heads them. The Permanent Council is composed of delegates from 57 OSCE participating States.
Swiss diplomat Thomas Greminger was appointed to the post of OSCE Secretary General on July 18, 2017 for a three-year term. Ambassador T. Greminger was Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the OSCE, and during Switzerland’s Chairmanship in 2014, served as Chair of the OSCE Permanent Council.
Former OSCE Secretary General (2011-2017) Italian diplomat Lamberto Zannier was appointed OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities in July 2017 for a three-year term.
Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland Inhibjörg Solrun Gisladottir, took office as director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on July 19, 2017.
The French diplomat, former Minister of State for European Affairs at the French Foreign Ministry, Arlem Desir, was appointed OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media on July 18, 2017 for a three-year term.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Established in August 1975, is the world’s largest regional security organization. Azerbaijan became a full member of the organization in January 1992. The official opening of the OSCE Office took place in Baku took place July 18, 2000.
13 years later, in July 2013, official Baku lowered the status of the office of the OSCE office in Azerbaijan. On January 1, 2014, the OSCE Baku Office began working as a project coordinator, and on March 1, 2014, he was headed by French diplomat of Azerbaijani origin Alexis Shakhtakhtinsky. A year after his work in Baku as the OSCE’s chief representative, the ambassador’s activities were criticized by US Ambassador Daniel Baer. This was followed by an environment of scandals related to Shakhtakhtinsky as a result of which the then OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier decided not to renew the mandate of Alexis Shakhtakhtinsky and France also did not support the extension of the mandate.
This action enraged the Azerbaijani authorities for Shakhtakhtinsky personally intervened by President Aliyev, who issued an ultimatum to the OSCE that, if Shakhtakhtinsky’s powers were suspended, he would finally close the OSCE office in Azerbaijan. Despite Aliyev’s ultimatum, Alexi Shakhtakhtinsky shook his post. Official Paris sent his diplomat Alexis Shakhtakhtinsky to the diplomatic service in Kazakhstan, where he is the Consul General of France in Alma-Ata.
Obviously, an attempt to block the appointment of a senior French diplomat to one of the key posts is a kind of revenge for the Foreign Ministries of Azerbaijan, France and the former OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zener for Alexis Shakhtakhtinsky; as well as for Desir’s principled position for criticizing the Azerbaijani authorities, harassing journalists and restricting freedom of speech.