WASHINGTON—The U.S. State Department said on Thursday that though it recognizes the role of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh in determining their own future, it will not recognize the results of the “so-called” elections set to take place on September 13.
“The United States recognizes the importance of the role of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh in determining their own future,” U.S. Department of State spokesperson John Kirby said at a daily press briefing in Washington DC on Thursday.
“In the context of a comprehensive settlement of the conflict, we recognize the role of the population in Nagorno-Karabakh in deciding their future. However, the United States does not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent sovereign state, and we will not accept the results of the so-called elections on the 13th of September as affecting the legal status of the region,” he continued.
Kirby made it clear that the elections cannot determine the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh. “We also stress that the so-called elections in no way prejudge the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh or the outcome of the ongoing negotiations to bring a lasting and peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
The United States has criticized Armenia and Azerbaijan for the latest upsurge of fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, saying that they both have used heavier weapons to shell each other’s villages along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
“We have received credible reports that Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have used mortars and other heavy weapons along the international border, resulting in civilian casualties and damage to villages,” Kirby said in a statement released late on Thursday.
“We are deeply troubled by the escalation and condemn any military action that targets civilians,” he said. “We call for an immediate end to such violence, for the de-escalation of tensions, and, in the strongest possible terms, for the avoidance of civilian casualties.”
The statement referred to last week’s intensification of ceasefire violations that were mainly reported from the western section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Villages on both sides of the frontier were directly hit in mostly overnight skirmishes between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops stationed in the area.
“We also remind the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan of their commitment to reach a negotiated settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict working closely with the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group,” Kirby also said.
The US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassador James Warlick asked on social media whether there can be a person like Abraham Lincoln in Armenia and Azerbaijan who can bring peace and reconciliation to the region.
He left the following message on social media in regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process:
“Abraham Lincoln brought us from war to reconciliation rising above politics and beginning a new chapter in our history. Is there a courageous Abraham Lincoln in Armenia or Azerbaijan who is prepared to bring peace and reconciliation? Are the people of the region ready to live side by side in peace, security, and prosperity?”