US’ OSCE Co-Chairman Is Sounding More Like Aliyev

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and the US Co-Chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick
President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and the US Co-Chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan (L) and the US Co-Chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick (R)


James Warlick, the US Co-Chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group charged with mediating a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, is sounding more like Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev than a so-called impartial diplomat tasked with resolving the longest conflict in post-Soviet history.

In an interview with Russian daily Vedomosti published this week, Warlick said that the “occupied” territories of Azerbaijan must be returned to Azeri control as part of a comprehensive settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Warlick said that conflicting sides should not focus on just one element or principle of the settlement. Territories must be returned, but there are other factors involved, which is why the co-chairs advocate a comprehensive settlement.

The most egregious part of Warlick’s statement, which was a reiteration of US policy outlined last year at the Carnegie Foundation after Warlick held a very public meeting with Armenian-American community leaders in Glendale, is the adoption of the language that has been used for almost 25 years by one side of the conflict—Azerbaijan.

The “comprehensive settlement” to which Warlick alludes is incumbent upon the return of the said territories, without any specific guarantees that may favor Karabakh. Simply put, Karabakh is expected to make the first move before any other provisions of a settlement are carried out.

Warlick told Vedomosti that security guarantees are an element of the settlement, which would include the deployment of international peacekeeping forces—either UN or OSCE. Who would provide the peacekeeping troops should be negotiated and decided by the parties “to ensure the security of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

Later in the interview, Warlick acknowledged that the mechanisms for those security guarantees have not yet been outline, but his insistence that the territories in question must be “returned to Azerbaijan” does not, in any way or form, inspire confidence.

In fact, what is being said, in this case by the US Co-Chairman, is nothing short of bullying, which favors and conforms to the rhetoric emanating from Baku. How is this arm-twisting supposed to advance the talks when one side’s bellicose rhetoric is being parroted by the mediator tasked with finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict?

The Armenian National Committee of America astutely observed that “the OSCE Co-Chairs have developed this bad habit of very openly lecturing the Armenian side about exactly what they ‘must’ surrender, while remaining effectively silent about any specific concessions they expect of Azerbaijan. This isn’t mediation, it’s public intimidation.”

Coincidentally—or not—the other entity that urges the return of lands before anything else is Turkey, which has preconditioned its approval of the dangerous Armenia-Turkey protocols on the return of “occupied territories.” It would not be that far-fetched to infer a correlation in this scenario.

The trajectory of the OSCE Minsk Group negotiations has shown that in an eventual peace deal, Armenia and Karabakh stand to lose the most, while Azerbaijan stands to gain despite its guilt in starting and escalating the Karabakh conflict, a fact categorically being ignored by mediators and the international community in general.

Warlick and the other co-chairmen are embracing and buttressing Baku’s victim mentality, thus providing it cover and carte blanche to advance its military rhetoric and continue its attacks on Karabakh and Armenian forces. The reaction to these cease fire violations by Azerbaijan has usually involved a statement urging both sides to refrain from military activities. This creates a false parity that does not bode well for the Minsk Group’s stated intention of providing security guarantees.

Warlick expresses concern about the escalation of tensions on the border and claims that the sides must work together to reach a negotiated peace, with Karabakh expected to make the first move by giving up what Warlick and Aliyev both call “occupied territories.” There is no direct condemnation of the belligerent attacks on Karabakh positions by Azerbaijani forces, such as the downing of a helicopter in broad daylight and Baku’s subsequent prevention of efforts to reclaim the remains of the three soldiers killed in the attack.

The examples of Baku’s violations have been reported and are too numerous to recount here, but the OSCE Co-Chairmen’s reactions have always been the same—urging calm to both sides. Yet that same parity does not apply when the OSCE Co-Chairmen continue to insist that Karabakh make concessions in the interest of eventual peace.

What is lacking in this process is a frank reflection on the genesis of the conflict, from which an equitable solution can be proposed based on truth and justice.

When in 1988 Armenians in Armenia and Karabakh took to the streets by the hundreds of thousands, using the new found freedoms envisioned by Gorbachev’s Glasnost and Perestroika, Azerbaijan’s response was to initiate pogroms against Armenians in Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad, Shahumian and Getashen, coupled with relentless attacks on the civilian population of Karabakh, thus sparking the war.

Azerbaijan lost the war, and here is the OSCE Minks Group doing its utmost to minimize Baku’s embarrassment and the blemish that it has left on the Aliyev clan. Interestingly, however, it has been successive US Co-Chairmen who have carried that torch, with the most notorious of them being Matthew Bryza, whose entrenched connections with official Baku and Ankara are also too numerous to enumerate.

To build confidence and to ensure the success of any security guarantees in the region, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen must act immediately and unequivocally to return Karabakh to the negotiating table as a full-fledged party to the conflict. After all, the signatories of the 1994 cease fire agreement were Stepanakert, Baku, and Yerevan, with Moscow as the mediating entity.

Furthermore, the parity that is falsely being doled out should actually be exercised whereby the Armenian side is not the only side that is forced to make concessions. For the OSCE, which values democracy above all else, the fact that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has existed for almost a quarter of century and is being governed based on democratic principles (the same cannot be said about Azerbaijan) must become an important consideration in the eventual determination of its status, which can be nothing short of an independent republic, for which the people of Karabakh have shed blood and have expressed their will in the polling booth.

The famous Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov said at the time of the Karabakh conflict that the issue of Karabakh is a matter of life and death for Armenians, but a matter of prestige for Azerbaijan.

Mr. Warlick, conflict resolutions must be guided by matters of life and death, and not on an insistence to give more leeway to the aggressor so that it can advance its military agenda.

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  1. Edward Demian said:

    We’ll consider returning those territories, when Israel returns all its occupied territories. Them first.
    Additionally, Azerbaijan does not have a legitimate government. It is a dictatorship. Let’s wait until a legitimate government comes to power.

  2. PK said:

    Give us back the Khachkars from Nakhichevan and we will return the territories. Oops, I forgot they destroyed it all.

  3. Simon Shekerjian said:

    Before going to discussions with Azeris, just see since how many years ago Azerbaijan has existed? Armenia existed since 6000 years ago.
    Azerbaijan appeared since a few decades. Is there any rights to discuss with the Azeris? How can they reclame about these territories? What was the territory name before Azeris came and occupied it???

  4. vartan said:

    Its time to say good by to warlick . He is paid and corrupted by Aliev , petro dollars willnot hide and manipulate the truth about ARSAKH .
    warlick like his predecessor is not a trustworthy person.

  5. Mkhitar Yepremyan said:

    No need for James Warlick and his likes in OSCE group. No thanks for his help and generosity. Artsakh is free and liberated and every inch of liberated land belongs to Artsakh and Armenia. Do not waste our treasured time and energy Warlick, just pack and go home and play your Azerbaijani and Turkish made kite in your own back yard but not ours.WE ARE THE OWNERS OF OUR LAND, NOBODY ELSE. KAPISH?

  6. Raffi said:

    I don’t think he’s convinced in what he’s saying, Follow the money, indagate his and his families finances, if nothing is found continue investigating their finances after he leaves office, corruption is everywhere, the plague of the modern times, CORRUPTION

  7. Robert Karl said:

    Does Turkey REALLY insist upon the return of “occupied territories”? Well, isn’t that a switch == and just how much occupied territory is Turkey willing to return?

  8. George said:

    James Warlick, go to hell, just don’t forget to take Aliyev with you!!!

  9. Levon said:

    Sounds like the repercussions of the recently failed “euromaidan” in Armenia. Message to the Armenian People: you either have a “color revolution” or we will show you our true colors.

  10. Marshsll said:

    He is nothing but a stooge that takes orders what they don’t know About Armenian/Americans is we will vote against who ever is against Armenian interests period!

  11. Harutik said:

    Why are we surprised at Warlick’s comments and why are we putting the blame solely on Obama’s administration?This isn’t even about Warlick. Warlick represents the world’s most corrupt political entity. Let me point out a few things that the average sheeple in the US seems totally unaware of:

    Elections in the US is basically about two groups of well connected people competing for the empire’s control panels. There has not been “free and fair” elections in the US for generations. The system is rigged to be a two party show. Democrats and Republicans are ultimately two sides of the same coin. Every four years the financial/corporate elite in the US decide what shirt the sheeple will wear, and the sheeple are given the “democratic” choice of picking between two colors. The US political system is like a two ring circus managed by a ringmaster that the audience does not get to see. US presidents are appointed by the elite to be elected by the sheeple. US presidents are tasked with being the spokesmen or salesmen for special interests running the imperial show behind-the-scenes. The US is being run as if it is a multi-national corporation in which the American citizenry is its work force. The US is more of a plutocracy than a democracy. US civilization prospered not because of a wonderful democratic system but because of centuries of mass scale exploitation of humans and nature and war plunder. US civilization lives well currently because of the absolute global domination the US dollar. For US civilization to continue living well, the hegemony of the US dollar has to be maintained by military intervention around the world and all potential competitors on the world stage have to be either isolated or destroyed. This is the problem the world is currently facing. The US has become a monster of global proportions. But a monster that will not live forever. The US is a civilization in decline. The American system will eventually collapse, perhaps within this century. And once it does, it will make the Soviet collapse look like a leisurely stroll through a flower garden.

    Russia is the last hope for western/European civilization, apostolic Christianity, societal conservatism and the traditional nation-state. Russia is the last front against Anglo-American imperialism, Westernization, Globalism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. God bless Mother Russia. God bless our Hayrenik. And may God help protect our centuries old Russo-Armenian alliance from all enemies both foreign and domestic.