US Ambassadors Issue Contradictory Remarks on Support for Minsk Group

BAKU (Armenpress)–The US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Anne Derse, told reporters in Baku Tuesday that the United States is ready to support efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“We are ready to participate in the Karabakh conflict resolution process and together with OSCE Minsk Group member-states continue searching for ways to resolve the conflict,” she said, making no comment on the current details of the negotiation process.

Derse’s apparent support for the Minsk Group comes after the US ambassador to Armenia, Marie Yovanovitch, Monday made a contradictory statement about the Minsk Group, casting doubt on her country’s continued support of international efforts to mediate a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

She said there are those in the US that question the viability of the OSCE Minsk Group and doubt whether it’s even worth continuing negotiations within the format.

Yovanovitch’s remarks came during a conference on security in the Black Sea region held in Yerevan.

The American, French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have been pressing the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to meet in the coming weeks and iron out their remaining differences on a framework peace accord proposed by them last year in Madrid.

Earlier this month, Yovanovitch told reporters that the US State Department was considering Turkey’s bid to mediate in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process.

Speaking in Baku, Derse noted US Vice President Dick Cheney’s visit to Azerbaijan in early September where he conveyed to the Azeri leadership the serious necessity for a quick resolution to the conflict. “Just like the Vice President said, the issue has become quite serious.”

Over the past several weeks, since the time of Vice President Dick Cheney’s early September visit to Azerbaijan, the US Administration has shifted its rhetoric regarding Azerbaijan and the Karabakh conflict, signaling an increased effort by Washington to court Baku by rolling back any mention of self-determination from its diplomatic vocabulary.

Speaking in Baku, the Vice President–echoing Azerbaijan’s negotiating stand–said that a Nagorno Karabakh settlement "must proceed" from the principle of territorial integrity and only "take into account other principles."

Meanwhile, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza said during a visit to Azerbaijan on October 9 that it was more important than ever now to resolve the dispute, pointing to the war in Georgia. Bryza promised that the United States would intensify efforts to help settle the conflict. Bryza, who serves as the State Department’s representative to the OSCE Minsk Group talks, called for a speedy resolution to the conflict based on Armenia’s agreement that Nagorno-Karabakh is legally part of Azerbaijan.

Earlier this month, Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried repeated the newly formulated U.S. stand during a visit to Yerevan, saying that a Nagorno Karabakh settlement must start from the principle of "territorial integrity," although he did concede that there were "other established norms," an apparent reference to democracy and self-determination, which he carefully avoided naming.

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