VIENNA—The United States Ambassador to the OSCE, Daniel B. Baer on Thursday praised Turkey’s role as a Minsk Group member in remarks delivered the organization’s permanent council.
“We note recent statements that have called into question Turkey’s constructiveness as a Minsk Group member and disagree with that assessment. Turkey has been a valuable member of the Minsk Group and has worked cooperatively with the Co-Chairs on finding a way forward in peace talks,” Baer said in defense of Turkey whose role was deemed as destructive to the Karabakh talks earlier this week by Russia’s Ambassador to the OSCE, Aleksandr Lukashevich.
The Russian diplomat on Monday deplored Turkey’s unconditional support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, calling Ankara’s pro-Azerbaijani position “destructive.”
“There is a strict understanding that the three co-chairs [of the OSCE Minsk Group] — Russia, France and the U.S. — carry the main burden, as do other members of the Minsk Group,” said Lukashevich. “Turkey, by the way, is also a member. But the leading role [in the Karabakh peace process] is reserved for the three co-chairs.”
“Therefore, attempts to defend one of the parties to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh are absolutely destructive and cannot have any continuation,” added the diplomat.
Armenian National Committee of America Chairman Ken Hachikian responded Friday to U.S. Baer’s statement.
“In the wake of Ambassador Baer’s recent reckless statement, it is clear that the leadership of our State Department needs to exercise considerably greater caution and thoughtfulness regarding officials who encourage a direct Turkish role in the Nagorno Karabakh peace process,” said Hachikian.
“Ankara makes no secret of its pro-Baku bias, and long ago abandoned any pretense of neutrality. Look at the facts: The Erdogan government actively supports Aliyev’s virulent anti-Armenian positions, openly providing military aid and training to the Azerbaijani military, while, at the same time, blockading Armenia, contrary to international law, and seeking to isolate Yerevan in the international arena. Turkey’s strategy — and the international community’s unwillingness to call them out on it — has emboldened an aggressive and intransigent Azerbaijan to increase its attacks – leading to over 43 Armenian deaths in 2015 alone,” added Hachikian.
“Why then, do U.S. officials allow themselves to be used as props in Erdogan’s farce, pretending that the Turkish government will – against all evidence – play the role of some sort of impartial mediator?” asked Hachikian.
“Why is it that U.S. leaders can’t seem to find our moral compass when its comes to Turkey – on issues ranging from justice for the Armenian Genocide and a peace for Syria to freedom for Nagorno Karabakh?” emphasized Hachikian.
“This Administration’s shameful legacy of endlessly caving in to Turkish threats – at the expense of our own values and interests as a nation – is truly a national disgrace – an embarrassment beneath the dignity of the American people,” commented Hachikian.
“Tearing down the firewall between Turkey and the Karabakh talks would only result in adding more fuel to the fire, setting back the cause of lasting peace,” concluded Hachikian.