Calls for Nagorno-Karabakh to return to the negotiating table
STEPANAKERT—Former US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans, whose tour of duty was cut short for his recognition of the Armenian Genocide, visited the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, where he met with President Bako Sahakian and other officials and called for Karabakh to return to the negotiating table.
This visit earned him a coveted spot on Baku’s notorious—and growing—list of foreign dignitaries visiting Artsakh. The Azerbaijani foreign ministry called his visit a “provocation,” engineered by the “Armenian lobby.”
Evans, who is an advisory board member of the Children of Armenia Fund, is visiting Artsakh with the organization’s founder and president Dr. Garo Armen, and met with President Sahakian on Wednesday, following which he spoke to reporters in Stepanakert where he called for the return of Karabakh authorities to the negotiating table.
“It’s time for the Nagorno Karabakh to return to the negotiating table and represent its interests as an independent state,” said Evans who reminded the audience that Artsakh was a part of the Karabakh talks following the 1994 cease fire agreement.
Evans and Armen also met with Artsakh Army Commander General Levon Mnatsakanyan. A press statement by the army said that discussions were held about COAF assisting children on the Karabakh-Azerbaijan border, known as the Line of Contact, and possible assistance to the families of wounded or deceased soldiers.
“Together with COAF Chairman Dr. Garo Armen we are ready to help the people of Artsakh, because they have been experiencing difficulties with the whole Armenian nation for more than a century now. We know there have been tragedies. The latest events have further strengthened the people, but we are confident we can achieve even more together. I mean the humanitarian programs,” Evans told reporters.
In 2005, during a speaking engagement at an Armenian American gathering at the University of California at Berkeley, Evans said, “Today–as someone who has studied it? there’s no doubt in my mind [as to] what happened . . . I think it is unbecoming of us–as Americans–to play word games here. I believe in calling things by their name.” Referring to the Armenian genocide as “the first genocide of the 20th century,” he said: “I pledge to you–we are going to do a better job at addressing this issue.” Evans also disclosed that he had consulted with a legal advisor at the State Department who had confirmed that the events of 1915 were “genocide by definition.”
His remarks prompted the State Department to cut short his tour of duty in Armenia. This action prompted wide-spread disappointment from Congressional leaders and community activists at the time.
Evans revisits this experience and also argues the case for US recognition of the Armenian Genocide in “Truth Held Hostage,” a new book released in April.