YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–A new war in the South Caucasus would be disastrous, US Charge d’Affairs Joseph Pennington said during a press conference in Yerevan on Tuesday.
His remarks came in response to a reporter’s questions about the growing belligerence of Azerbaijan toward neighboring Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
A war cannot bring about settlement for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, he said, adding that he believes the authorities in Yerevan and Baku realize that a military solution is not the way to solve the conflict.
Pennington’s remarks come against the backdrop of growing threats from Azerbaijan to use military force to "reclaim" the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which declared independence from Baku in 1991 following brutal massacres of Armenia’s throughout Azerbiajan.
Although the tense status quo in Karabakh has by and large held, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev continues to threaten the use of his country’s growing military to take back the territory. Aliyev’s threats have raised fear among western diplomats and analysts that Baku may reignite the conflict, which was brought to a cease-fire in 1994 with Russian mediation.
On August 8, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement, describing Georgia’s military offensive to “reclaim” South Ossetia as a positive precedent for countries seeking to use military force to restore "territorial integrity." The statement, published in Today.Az, made clear reference to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
But the situation in Azerbaijan Today is quite different, according to the director of the Caucasus Institute, Alexander Iskandaryan.
“The current situation in Azerbaijan can be simplify characterized as one of panic,” he said. “Azerbaijan is panic-stricken because of the developmen’s in Georgia.”
According to Iskandaryan, Azerbaijan’s reactions to the conflict in Georgia have been inconsistent and varied, from threats to join NATO, to warnings that Armenia is preparing to attack on Azerbaijan. Azeri politicians, political scientists, and officials have also heightened their war rhetoric and threatened to launch an attack to seize Karabakh by force.
But the United States will continue to work to prevent a new conflict in the region, Pennington remarked.
The US envoy in Armenia also took the opportunity to discuss Armenian-Turkish relations, noting that the events in Georgia demonstrate the need to open the Armenian-Turkish border, which has been subject to a strict blockade by Ankara since 1993.
“The events in region of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict assure us once again that the
Armenian-Turkish border should be opened and free commodity circulation should be implemented,” Pennington is quoted by Arminfo as saying.
He also said that the US supports the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between the two countries.