Rice Says Karabakh Remains Major Obstacle to Regional Development

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The United States has a lot of work to do in order to help strengthen democracy in the South Caucasus, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday during a meeting with the leadership of the US Peace Corps.
"We have a lot to do in Azerbaijan and to some extent in Armenia’so that these countries comply to some extent with those requiremen’s which they once were committed to," she said.
According to RFE/RL, she said the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was the biggest obstacle to Armenia and Azerbaijan’s progress.
"Because of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh political leaders resort sometimes to ‘bad’ moves and cite the conflict to justify them. I am telling them often that if the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not resolved, these two states will be lagging behind their neighbors," she said.
She also said the USA is not going to "export" democracy to the region’s countries.
"Our main goal is to change [these countries] through organizations like the Peace Crops the way people there think and change their expectations," she said.
During the question and answer period, Rice, answering the question of Zoltan Sigetti, director of the Peace Corps on Azerbaijan, about the state of democratic development in the South Caucasus, announced: "The Caucasus, particularly the — not so much Georgia, but Azerbaijan, to a certain extent Armenia, there is important work to be done there to bring that part of the Caucasus closer to standards that we thought they were once meeting".
At the same time, Rice said "I would love to see more volunteers in that part of the world, both in places that are starting to move up and places that are still mired in the kinds of problems that you have in Azerbaijan"

In the light of intensively developing US-Azerbaijani relations, the said announcemen’s of the US Secretary of State seem a bit unexpected. Day.Az has addressed the spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry for commen’s.

"We have familiarized with the statement of the US Secretary of State and we would like to note that the assessment of the situation in our region do not fall under any critics and is a demonstration of double standards, said Azeri Deputy Foreign Minister said Khazar Ibrahim.
“It seems to us that Washington does not have a real idea of the region, which is disappointing, considering the relations of strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and the United States," said Ibrahim.

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