Is West getting back to Nagorno-Karabakh settlement?
Before paying an official visit to Baku, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent made a statement, suggesting that Washington intends to move from a passive presence in the OSCE Minsk Group to active mediation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.
Kent stressed that the United States does not accept Armenia's aggressive occupation policy and all propaganda steps taken by Yerevan against the restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. "The U.S. does not recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh and will never use a different name for the Azerbaijani region," he said.
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the OSCE Minsk Group format and its formulas for settling the conflict. "The Karabakh conflict should be resolved on the basis of four UN Security Council resolutions and the Madrid principles. Everyone in Azerbaijan wants to resolve this conflict. As a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States is aware of the gravity of the responsibilities in this matter," George Kent said.
Yesterday, the government of the Federal Republic of Germany has expressed the same position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement. "We consider the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven adjacent districts controlled by the Armenian armed forces to be part of Azerbaijan and do not recognize the illegal 'Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,' the German government stressed.
Head of the expert council of Baku Network, Elkhan Alasgarov, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that these statements made by American and German officials point to the West's intention to seriously intensify efforts to involve the South Caucasus in its orbit. “After Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, there was a very long process of internal contradictions in Washington, due to which the American foreign policy was very uncertain, but according to the State Department representative's statement, we see that this period is over. Kent clearly said that the United States is in favor of a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on four UN resolutions, which imply the withdrawal of the occupying Armenian army from the territories of Azerbaijan, and the Madrid principles, which testifies to the U.S. desire to intensify its foreign policy associated with the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," he said.
"Germany's statement in response to a request for the status of Nagorno-Karabakh is also important. Berlin confirmed that it recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan, and that the resolution of the conflict should be within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. I think these are two interrelated statements, that is, Western countries intend to intensify their policies in the South Caucasus," Elkhan Aleskerov stressed.
Director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergei Markov, in turn, noted that the West still limits itself to statements and does not take practical steps towards a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "It is worth noting that Washington and Moscow have no serious contradiction in the OSCE Minsk Group, which is very good for Baku, since both the U.S. and Russia support the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The difference between the positions of the United States and Russia lies in the fact that Moscow is more or less active in this matter and tries to help Azerbaijan and Armenia to reach a decision, in particular through the development of the Kazan formula - while the United States takes a passive position. As they say, thank you for not interfering," he said.
"The absence of differences between Russia and the United States in the OSCE Minsk Group is important, because Washington actively opposes us in other areas - Syria, Ukraine. I think, ideally, the United States will retain the position when they verbally support a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but do not oppose Russian efforts. By the way, we should not forget that there is a large Armenian diaspora in the United States and France, and therefore, to some extent, there is a pro-Armenians position there. So I would consider Kent’s statement as part of a regular visit to the region by an official specializing on it," Sergey Markov concluded, adding that if Washington wants to make a practical contribution to the settlement, it could reduce its economic aid to Armenia and ban their officials from visiting Karabakh not through Azerbaijan - but this is not happening yet.