Azerbaijani presidential administration envoy: By pushing Turkey to abandon Azerbaijan, U.S. risks alienating one of its most important and reliable partners in region
Azerbaijan, Baku, April 21 /Trend, M.Aliyev/
By pushing Turkey to abandon Azerbaijan, the United States risks alienating one of its most important and reliable partners in a critical region of the world, Novruz Mammadov, the Head of the Foreign Relations Department of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan, told English version of Radio Liberty in his commentary on the current situation in U.S.-Azerbaijan relations.
"Azerbaijan and Turkey are strategic allies with deep historical ties. Turkey has played an important role in Azerbaijan's partnership with the West on key security and energy projects. Azerbaijan spearheaded the opening of Caspian energy resources to the West and insisted that major oil and gas pipelines be routed through Georgia and Turkey. Baku has also wholeheartedly supported U.S. security initiatives by sending troops to Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Azerbaijan also provides supply-transit support for the NATO effort in Afghanistan. Those who know the region understand the significant risks Azerbaijan took and the pressure it overcame in order to pursue close cooperation with the West on energy and security issues," Mammadov said.
According to Mammadov, long-term peace and normalization of relations in the South Caucasus cannot be achieved by rewarding aggression and by excluding the region's strategically most important country.
Mammadov said that Armenia's closed borders are the main form of leverage that might compel Yerevan to engage seriously in the resolution of the conflict.
"Washington believes that a Turkish-Armenian rapprochement could kill two birds with one stone. First, it might smooth over -- at least temporarily -- one of the major trouble spots in U.S.-Turkish relations: the issue of Armenian genocide claims. Second, some U.S. officials argue that improving ties between Armenia and Turkey will ultimately contribute to a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They appear to believe improved relations will lead to a moderation of Armenian policies and open the way to new initiatives on Karabakh. However, we must disagree. Armenia continues to occupy almost 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory. It is ironic that while claiming to be the first victim of genocide in the 20th century, Armenia itself carried out one of the century's major ethnic-cleansing campaigns in Europe -- a campaign that resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of nearly 1 million Azerbaijanis. There is no reason to believe that opening the borders will make Armenia more willing to compromise; on the contrary, removing this sole punishment will only increase Armenia's interest in further entrenching the status quo," Mammadov said.
According to representative of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, many members of the Armenian political elite -- including President Serge Sarkisian -- rose through the ranks because of their personal involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh war. "They have used the war as a pretext for strengthening their own hold over Armenian politics, so it is not surprising that they have not been constructive in settlement talks," said Mammadov.