U.S./France-Russia Rapprochement Over Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh Pushes Azerbaijan Into International Isolation
Posted on June. 23. 2022
BY APPO JABARIAN
[This week’s column is dedicated to the living memory of our former colleague and fellow Co-Publisher Haig Antranig Adomian who unexpectedly passed away overseas on May 29, 2022. See tribute article and obituary on page E11]
Over the weekend of June 18-19, The United States officially stated that Washington is “willing to continue to cooperate with Russia in facilitating a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.” With this latest positive development for Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh Armenians, Azerbaijan found itself on the wrong side of the issue.
The U.S., Russia and France have for decades jointly tried to broker an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace accord in their capacity as the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. According to Russian officials, Washington and Paris stopped working with Moscow in the Minsk Group format following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried denied this as she visited Armenia on the last leg of her tour of the three South Caucasus states.
“The U.S. has continued to say that we support the Minsk Group co-chair process,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service in an interview. “We continue to believe that it is a very important format, particularly in Nagorno-Karabakh, and it is essential that we keep various formats in play to try to advance peace. And we will continue to do that going forward.”
Asked whether Washington is ready for fresh contacts with Moscow for that purpose, Donfried said: “Yes. Russia is a Minsk Group co-chair. France, the U.S. and Russia would continue in that format.”
It is refreshing that Washington, Paris and Moscow are willing to compartmentalize their relations in order to successfully decouple Artsakh’s quest for sovereignty and independence from the Ukraine crisis. By compartmentalizing, the Minsk co-chairs US, France and Russia can successfully quarantine their differences in Ukraine and focus on productive cooperation equitably achieving Artsakh’s Sovereignty and Independence.
As a manifestation of the United States’ support for the peaceful settlement of the Artsakh/Karabakh issue, Lynne Tracy, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia, made a strong statement to that effect. Ambassador Tracy stated that US recognizes the role of the Armenian people of ‘Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh’ in deciding their future, adding that the key to a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous future in the South Caucasus region is a negotiated, comprehensive, and sustainable settlement of all remaining issues related to or resulting from the Artsakh/Karabakh conflict.
In the wake of the Azerbaijan-Turkey-ISIS/Islamic State’s 44-day anti-Armenian terrorist aggression against Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh, The American Armenian Diaspora has exhibited unprecedented political activism and initiated ground-breaking educational efforts.
One such educational initiative has been and continues to be led by AANSI– The American Armenian National Security Institute and its Founding Chairman U.S. Army Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Mark MacCarley.
AANSI – The American Armenian National Security Institute’s Chairman Mr. MacCarley clearly articulates, “The American Armenian National Security Institute (AANSI) is dedicated to educating Congressional, military and civilian national security decision-makers on American defense and strategic interests in the South Caucasus region, specifically in Armenia. AANSI believes that a strong Armenian military modernized and equipped in consonance with NATO and US guidelines is the best guarantor of peace and the maintenance of democratic values in one of the most contentious and volatile parts of the world, where the primary actors – Russia, Iran, Turkey and Azerbaijan – are constantly battling for regional hegemony.” AANSI is a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit educational and charitable organization. (www.aansi.org)
At the core, is the 1923 illegal carving out by the Soviet occupiers of the Armenian territories of Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh and Nakhichevan and arbitrarily ‘gifting’ them to then newly created state – Republic of Azerbaijan. The forcible Soviet-style dismemberment of The First Democratic Republic of Armenia (1918-1920) was executed in order to herd into the U.S.S.R. the newly created Republic of Azerbaijan.
Although Coca Cola is older than the Republic of Azerbaijan, Baku’s dictatorial Pres. Ilham Aliyev is obstinate in insisting that the indigenous Armenians of Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh and Nakhichevan who have been living at least 2500 years before Turkic-Seljuks arrival from The Steppes of Central Asia “are newcomers,” and that “Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan.” “Karabakh” in Turkic language means “Black Garden.” According to several historians, having suffered huge losses among his soldiers in Artsakh in the 1230’s, at the hands of indigenous Armenian warriors, Genghis Khan named Artsakh ““Karabakh” (“Black Garden”- a Turkic term).
The U.S./France-Russia rapprochement over Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh is now clearly a serious political blow to Azerbaijan’s warmongering and destructive desire to “solve the problem by force;” by perpetrating a Second and Final Genocide of Armenians; by driving the indigenous Armenians out of their ancestral lands in Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh.
In the aftermath of the 2020 American Armenians and non-Armenian Americans have been calling for renewed joint activities of U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Independently, Armenia’s leaders led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian have urged the international community to resuscitate the OSCE Minsk Group. During a June phone conversation with his counterpart in Moscow, PM Pashinian reportedly discussed the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
By contrast, Azerbaijani officials and President Ilham Aliyev in particular have repeatedly questioned the need for the Minsk Group’s continued existence. Aliyev has said that the war in Ukraine has effectively put an end to that joint mediation framework.
“Azerbaijan has not been supportive of the Minsk Group co-chair process, the United States is,” said Donfried. “We are a participant in that process and we will continue to do so.”
On Thurs. June 15, Aliyev threatened to resort to military action if Armenia continues to oppose the opening of a land corridor connecting Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave. Officials in Yerevan responded by reiterating that Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements brokered by Russia call for only conventional transport links between the two South Caucasus states.
Commenting on Aliyev’s bellicose rhetoric, Donfried cushioned Baku’s dictator: “There is no question that words matter and so we need to be thoughtful about the words that we use. I think actions matter as well but if there is going to be forward progress toward reconciliation between Azerbaijan and Armenia there is no question that people need to be mindful about their words.”
The U.S./France-Russia Rapprochement Over Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh in and by itself is a major political setback for Azerbaijan. Baku’s belligerent overconfidence has pushed Azerbaijan into international isolation.
This is a huge win for Armenians of Artsakh and a sound political defeat for Azerbaijan. Friends of self-determination rights and democracy may apply caution as oil-rich Azerbaijan may embark on oil-diplomacy to bribe its way through the U.S., French and Russian corridors of power.