Azeri Minister Chides Congress On Genocide Bill

MOSCOW (Reuters)–Azerbaijan’s foreign minister chided the US Congress on Tuesday for debating a resolution on recognizing the 1915 killings of Armenia’s as genocide–saying Washington could hurt its role in resolving regional problems.

Vilayat Guliyev told a news conference that involvement in the sensitive issue was incompatible with the US role in trying to find a solution to Azerbaijan’s long-running dispute with Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“We do not support any sort of discussion like this in Congress,” Guliyev said after two days of talks in Russia.

“The United States is co-chairman of the Minsk OSCE group and has taken on the commitment of objectively and fairly resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.

“If the United States supports Armenia on this historical issue it will have a specific influence on resolving it.”

Azerbaijan has close cultural and linguistic ties with Turkey and has been nurturing post-Soviet political links.

The leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been holding periodic talks to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is leading mediation efforts through the Minsk group–named after the Belarussian capital–and the United States is one of the participants in talks.

Guliyev acknowledged that the issue of the alleged genocide was a sensitive one for Armenia’s–but said it was best for politicians to steer clear of it.

“I believe this is more a matter for historians than politicians,” he said.

“In Turkey–new generations have appeared who do not identify with the Ottoman Turks. There are also new generations in Armenia. Armenia’s future prosperity is linked with how it establishes relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey,” he said.

Meanwhile–the Turkish Daily News reported that following a meeting between President Bill Clinton with US House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)–Secretary of State Madeline Albright and Secretary of Defense William Cohen sent a joint letter to Hastert requesting his help in preventing approval of the resolution. Albright and Cohen reportedly mentioned the damage that the resolution could do were it passed by the full House.

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