OSCE MINISTERS MEET FOR SECURITY TALKS IN ATHENS

Hurriyet Daily News
Dec 1 2009
Turkey

Foreign policy chiefs from 56 countries hope to agree on a rare
political declaration on common security structure at a two-day
meeting that opened in Athens on Tuesday.

If an agreement can be reached, it would be the first time since 2002
that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has
settled on a common political declaration. "Security in our region
remains a work in progress. The global crisis has affected all our
countries," said Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who is also
the country's foreign minister. "The new dialogue on European security
can be meaningful only insofar as it is tied to concrete progress on
key security challenges," he said.

Greece holds the rotating OSCE chairmanship until January. OSCE
countries have a wide range of security problems to contend with,
including the situation in Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea and Iran,
and the aftermath of Russia's war with Georgia last year. Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to expand on proposals by
President Dmitry Medvedev for a new European security structure. The
blueprint has met with a wary reception from many western OSCE members.

Russia also urged the United States and NATO to keep it better informed
about their plans for the war in Afghanistan. George A.

Kroll, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian
Affairs, said the OSCE "is a very good venue for the continuation
of the discussions and cooperation the United States and Russia are
doing across a wide agenda of issues."

Papandreou asked those attending to take Turkey and Armenia as an
example for the OSCE. The two countries ended a century of hostility
this year by agreeing to establish diplomatic relations. Ankara
fiercely opposes claims that the mass killing of Armenians during the
final days of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I amounted
to genocide. "The bold decision taken by Turkey and Armenia have not
been easy but they have been important. We must now take this same
spirit of reconciliation to the unresolved conflicts that persist in
the OSCE area," Papandreou said.

Speaking on Monday, Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigoris
Delavekouras said organizers hoped "that by Wednesday afternoon we will
be able to announce real progress on every issue." Several foreign
ministers also planned to hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines
of the conference.