LOS ANGELES—Congressman Adam Schiff on Thursday slammed Baku’s “authoritarian regime” after Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, citing Schiff’s interview with Asbarez, told a press conference on Wednesday that he has instructed Baku’s Embassy in Washington to investigate State Department official Victoria Nuland’s role in the defeat, last month, of an anti-Karabakh measure at the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe.
Schiff, a Democrat representing California’s 28th Congressional district, told Asbarez editor Ara Khachatourian in an interview on Horizon Live last week, that ahead of the PACE vote in January he had spoken with “a top state department official, one of our ambassador’s in the region, to raise my concern over this pro Azeri narrative resolution that was being presented before PACE and to express my strong opposition.”
“Both the ambassador and [Assistant Secretary of the State for European and Eurasian Affairs] Victoria Nuland were working against it and I think they thought it was going to be a tough struggle, and frankly I’m thrilled that it was defeated,” Schiff told Khachatourian.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and other officials have taken offense at the reference about Nuland and her role in the defeat of the PACE resolution, authored by British member of parliament Robert Walter, who has gone on to receive Turkish citizenship.
News.az reported that Mammadyarov, during a press conference on Wednesday, expressed his anger and said that Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Washington is actively working with “Congress and the White House” to identify the Nuland’s role in the defeat of the PACE measure.
On Thursday, Schiff hit back at Mammadyarov’s statement saying in an email to Asbarez that “If Azerbaijan had any interest in a peaceful resolution to the conflict, they would agree to the installation of monitoring technologies on the Line of Contact, but instead they seem intent on ratcheting up tensions, pursuing symbolic resolutions and attacking those who speak out for peace.”
“Their actions, or the lack thereof, tell the story of an increasingly isolated and authoritarian regime seeking to use the Nagorno Karbakh conflict for its own domestic political purposes. I will continue to urge the Administration and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to speak frankly about Azerbaijan’s dangerous and provocative posture towards Artsakh,” added Schiff.
As was reported in Asbarez, Schiff appealed to Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of the PACE vote to voice his opposition to the measure and ask Kerry to intervene.
“I don’t think it is the last of these kinds of motions we are going to see at PACE and we just have to continue to mobilize against it. Part of it not only had an Azeri narrative, but also one to change the composition of the group that would work on resolving the issues in the region that would stack the deck in favor of Azerbaijan,” Schiff told Khachatourian.