America's "impartial mediation" logic: Can't name the "aggressor"!

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Baku, February 27, 2014 –

Resolution of the conflicts in the South Caucasus is one of the foremost subjects in the political agenda of the big powers. Nonetheless, they are not always necessarily objective and fair. They are especially reluctant to acknowledge in their actions the fact of aggression of Azerbaijan’s territories by Armenia. Recent remarks by the American diplomats on this problem testify to this assertion. Apparently, the countries to have assumed the mediation mission need to be more engaged and just.

Co-chair’s visit to Turkey: clandestine talks

Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh is yet to see its just resolution. Despite the big powers and international organizations verbally supporting Azerbaijan, actions are yet to speak louder than words. Azerbaijani authorities have repeatedly expressed their frustration with this issue. OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs produce no tangible efforts to compel the aggressor to withdraw from the occupied Azerbaijani lands. Instead, they take steps, bewildering and regrettable to most reasonable and fair people. Similar situation arose just recently.

Notably, American co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick visited Turkey. Announced purpose of the visit was to explore Ankara’s position on the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh (see: "Turkey is being involved with the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict'' / "'', 21 February 2014). American co-chair said he was interested in hearing Turkey’s view on the problem but highlighted the commitment to Minsk Group format.

It implies that official Washington has no intention to revisit the principles defined by the OSCE. In the meantime, the U.S. is interested in seeing regional powers’ greater input to the resolution process. What aspects of Turkey’s position could be of interest for the U.S.? Official Ankara has always remained a stalwart supporter of Azerbaijan’s just cause. Armenians continuously resented this position. Thus, America sought to ensure Turkey took steps to satisfy Armenia, with the issue of reopening of borders first coming to mind.

Scrutiny of the substance of the U.S. position may enable the presumption that this was indeed the very subject discussed by the American co-chair in Ankara. According to the experts, deliberations with the Turkish diplomats were around the subject of compatibility of the Cyprus conflict resolution model with the one in Nagorno Karabakh.

Presumably, these developments can be underpinned by Washington’s intention to introduce the so-called "NKR'' into the negotiations process. However, everyone must be aware that such a scenario is inconceivable because Nagorno Karabakh is a territory of Azerbaijan, with per se Armenian and Azerbaijani communities. It is only in this capacity that the citizens may be incorporated into the process. All external powers must refrain from interfering into this subject. Apparently, U.S. dismisses these conditions, which only dooms the option of introducing the Armenian separatists to the negotiation process.

Ambassador rejecting reality and problem of just resolution

Interestingly, voyage of the American co-chair coincided with the remarks made by the U.S. Ambassador Richard Morningstar in his interview with an Azerbaijani media outlet (see: Richard Morningstar: "The U.S. values its strategic partnership with Azerbaijan'' / "'', 24 February 2014). Answering a question that so far, the mediator countries have not recognized Armenia as an aggressor he said, "We cannot engage in name-calling. We can’t brand either Armenia or Azerbaijan as aggressors because that makes it almost impossible to be able to serve as a mediator'' (see: previous source).

Remarks of distinguished ambassador are formally logical and consistent with the mediation role. Yet they appear unsubstantiated from the angle of just resolution of this conflict. First, occupation of Azerbaijani lands is a fact. Why does the acknowledgement of this fact sound as "name-calling''? Is not the occupation of a territory of another country insulting enough? If so, nobody can deny Azerbaijan its right to counter this insult.

Second, if Armenia itself fails to recognize the fact of aggression no mediator can resolve this problem. Those driven by double standards cannot be good-faith mediators in the first place. Third, was any success registered since the big powers within the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship refused to name Armenia an aggressor?

Finally, they are two-thought provoking aspects to the remarks by the Mr. Ambassador. First of all, news emerged about the U.S. earmarking $255 thousand for development of country’s national brand (see: США предоставит 255 тысяч долларов для разработки Национального брендинга Армении / "Regnum'', 25 February 2014). This means that the U.S. assists in development of tourism in a nation – party to the conflict – and aims to bolster its image abroad. How consistent is that effort with the reasoning of ambassador on the philosophy of mediation? How can positive image of a nation occupying lands of its neighbor be bolstered, especially, done by a mediator-state?

Furthermore, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry voiced his concern with the non-implementation of the UN Security Council resolution on Syria. Should not Mr. Kerry be troubled by failed implementation of the 4 resolutions by the very body on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict? In this context Mr. Novruz Mammadov, the Head of Foreign Relations Department of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan, accurately described the present situation, "Azerbaijan has concerns on non-implementation of 4 UNSC resolutions on NK, similar to that of the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on failed implementation of UNSCE resolution on Syria'' (see: Новруз Мамедов: ''Азербайджан так же обеспокоен невыполнением резолюций ООН по Нагорному Карабаху, как США – по Сирии'', '''', 25 February 2014).

On the other hand, N. Mammadov asks a legitimate question, "Shouldn’t the UNSC P5 (U.S., France, UK, Russia and China) bear responsibility for implementation of the Security Council resolutions?!'' Perhaps, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs are not properly engaged with the problem. How consistent is this situation with the objective mediation logic?

In this context it is worthy to mention the letters written by the Presidents of the United States and the Republic of Azerbaijan. In his letter on the occasion of Ilham Aliyev’s reelection for the term in office American president highlighted, "We appreciate our partnership in Afghanistan and our cooperation to combat terrorism. We stand ready to work with you to seize the historic opportunity to find a peaceful, negotiated resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict…'' (see: From the President of the United States Barack Obama / Official website of the President of Azerbaijan, 7 November 2013).

If Azerbaijan stands with the United States in Afghanistan and in combating terrorism, then it is with commensurate sincerity that the U.S. should strive toward just resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Friendship is a two way street. In his letter addressed to Barack Obama in 2012 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev drew attention to these very aspects, "The attention of the United States to our region as a whole, its support for peace and calm are very important to us. As a result of Armenia’s aggressive policy against Azerbaijan, our territorial integrity was violated, our lands occupied and more than a million of our compatriots driven out of their homes. We have great hopes for the efforts of the United States as a country co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group and engaged in a peacekeeping mission and you personally have made towards a speedy and fair settlement of the conflict by peaceful means and in line with the international law'' (see: To the President of the United States of America Barack Obama / Official website of the President of Azerbaijan, 03 July, 2012).

Evidently, Washington is unable to respond objectively to fair calls on Azerbaijan’s part and continues to buttress Armenia in various aspects. Nonetheless, one issue must be reckoned: Nobody is capable of forestalling Azerbaijan’s just position.

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