Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed what he called a “history opportunity to achieve peace in the region,” following telephone conversations with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan on Tuesday.
“I commend the positive momentum resulting from bilateral talks and urge further progress towards peace and stability in the region,” Blinken said in a Twitter post after his talks with Aliyev. The U.S, Secretary of State also praised his discussion with Pashinyan about “Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s historic opportunity to achieve peace in the region. I commend Armenia on its positive steps forward with Azerbaijan [and] Turkey.”
The State Department said in a statement about the call with Aliyev that Blinken “reiterated the United States’ offer of assistance in helping facilitate the opening of regional transportation and communication linkages. Secretary Blinken encouraged continued bilateral dialogue, such as the recent meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers in Tbilisi.”
“The Secretary also reaffirmed support for productive EU-brokered discussions. He conveyed that the United States has been an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair since 1994 and stands ready to engage bilaterally and with likeminded partners to help Armenia and Azerbaijan find a long-term comprehensive peace. Secretary Blinken also urged President Aliyev to release all remaining Armenian detainees,” the statement added.
Aliyev has long declared the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs efforts dead and has said that Karabakh conflict ended when Azerbaijan attacked Artsakh in the fall of 2020.
A press statement from Pashinyan’s office said that “issues related to the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace talks, the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, the opening of regional communications, the return of captives, and the clarification of the fate of missing persons became the subject of discussion” between Blinken and Armenia’s prime minister, who reiterated Yerevan’s commitment to advancing a peace agenda in the region.
Pashinyan’s office added the the two leader “also discussed the processes taking place in Armenia-Turkey relations.”
“The Secretary of State welcomed the telephone conversation between the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Turkey that took place this year on July 11 and expressed the readiness of the US to support the normalization of relations between the two countries,” according to the read out from Pashinyan’s office.
During the past two weeks there has been an increased flurry of American diplomatic activity in Armenia and surrounding regional developments.
After CIA Director William Burns met with Pashinyan and other high-level officials in Yerevan, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried phoned Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov after the two held talks in Tbilisi earlier this month.
All this attention on Armenia begs the question of where was this keen U.S. interest in Armenia when Azerbaijani forces were pounding Artsakh with heavy artillery and banned weapons during the 2020 war?