As Trump, Again, Promises “We’re Gonna Do Something” for Armenia, Aliyev Lies to Fox News
U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien on Sunday told CBS’ Face the Nation that while Armenia has agreed to a ceasefire, Azerbaijan has not. At the same time, Fox News aired an interview with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who placed preconditions on a ceasefire. Later on Sunday morning, President Donald Trump again promised that the U.S. would do something for Armenia.
“Under the President’s direction, we have spent the entire weekend trying to broker peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan.” O’Brien told Face The Nation. “Armenia has accepted a ceasefire. Azerbaijan has not yet. We are pushing Azerbaijan to do so.”
BREAKING: “Under the President’s direction, we have spent the entire weekend trying to broker peace between #Armenia and #Azerbaijan. Armenia has accepted a ceasefire. Azerbaijan has not yet. We are pushing them [Azerbaijan] to do so.” – @WHNSC on @FaceTheNation pic.twitter.com/8E1Qg2HoOZ
— ANCA (@ANCA_DC) October 25, 2020
O’Brien urged Azerbaijan on Friday to reject “outside actors,” which he said are destabilizing the situation, in an apparent reference to Turkey, which has been unequivocally and militarily supporting Azerbaijan since it began its aggressive attacks on Artsakh on September 27.
“In my meeting with Azerbaijani foreign minister Jeyhun Bayramov, I pressed for an immediate ceasefire then a return to Minsk Group-facilitated negotiations with Armenia, and rejection of outside actors further destabilizing the situation. There is no military solution,” O’Brien said in a Twitter post on Friday.
O’Brien’s statements come two days after he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met separately with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Jeyhum Bayramov in Washington.
President Donald Trump, during a campaign rally in New Hampshire, again mentioned Armenians, as he did last week in Nevada, saying “Armenians are fighting like hell.” Trump promised that U.S. will do something for Armenia “like we did in Kosovo.”
Aliyev, however, said his country is ready for a ceasefire with preconditions, which include having Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan support what he called the basic principles put forth by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries—the U.S., France and Russia.
“We are ready today to negotiate a ceasefire,” Aliyev told the Fox News’ Greg Palkot in an interview that aired Sunday. “But at the same time, Armenia, its prime minister must say that they support the basic principles [of a Karabakh settlement] drafted by the U.S., Russia and France.”
Calling Baku’s position “maximalist,” Pashinyan’s spokesperson Mane Gevorgyan said Sunday that the Armenian government has always expressed readiness to seek a compromise-based solution.
Aliyev claimed on FOX News that Armenia violated the ceasefire both times. He also added the his forces do not target civilians or religious site, adding that no other country was supporting Azerbaijan, calling claims of Turkey-backed jihadists fighting alongside Azeri forces “fake news.”
“We publicly said we will take revenge, but on the battlefield,” Aliyev said on FOX News. “We do not kill civilians. We do not target religious sites.” He called the bombing of the Gazachetsosts Cathedral in Shushi “not intentional.”
“Our position is that all the regional countries should stay away from direct involvement in the conflict,” Aliyev said. “We are completely against the ‘internationalization’ of the conflict.”
“We don’t need any mercenaries,” he said. “It’s all fake news aimed at damaging the image of the country and diminishing the bravery of the soldiers on the battlefield.”
Aliyev told FOX News that he supported any motivation to end the hostilities.
“Any motivation in order to put an end to hostility is supported by us,” Aliyev said. “A very straightforward position by President Trump is supported by me as well as the people of Azerbaijan.”
Yet, at a press event Friday in the Oval Office, Trump praised Armenia and did not mention Azerbaijan. In fact, since last week when the president began addressing the Armenian issue, largely due to Armenian protesters going to his campaign stops, he never once has spoken about Azerbaijan.