Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 10
By Sabina Ahmadova - Trend:
U.S Secretary of State John Kerry held a productive meeting with Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan as part of the NATO summit in Wales, U.S co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick told Trend.
"The Secretary had a productive discussion with the presidents to better understand the sides' positions and encourage the sides to take steps towards peace," he said.
"The Secretary urged the presidents to respect the ceasefire and de-escalate tensions along the line of contact, and both presidents reaffirmed their commitment to resolving the conflict peacefully," Warlick said.
He stressed that additionally, the Secretary urged the presidents to enter into a formal negotiation process to make progress on a lasting settlement.
"We have a lot of work to do in the months ahead to advance our mutual goal of bringing peace to the people of the region, and the Secretary's meeting helped to clarify where to focus our efforts," he said.
Warlick said that the OSCE Minsk Group expects a trilateral meeting among the presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and France to be held in Paris in late October.
"We hope that the presidents will come to Paris ready to hold constructive talks," he said.
He added that only when the sides demonstrate that they are truly ready for peace will there finally be a resolution to the conflict.
"The OSCE Minsk Group will exhaust all efforts to help the sides reach a lasting settlement through the Minsk Group, but we cannot impose a solution," Warlick said. "Ultimately, a settlement requires political will on both sides."
California State Senate passed a resolution calling for recognition of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Warlick stressed that the U.S. Constitution empowers the federal government to conduct foreign policy.
"State governments and legislatures have the right to issue non-binding statements on foreign affairs, but they do not represent U.S. policy," he said.
California Senate passed a resolution, which is of an anti-Azerbaijani nature, Aug. 27.
"The anti-Azerbaijani resolution AJR 32 on Nagorno-Karabakh has been on the agenda of the California State Senate for some time," the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles said.
"From the very beginning, a number of serious measures were undertaken by the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles to counter the resolution. These measures included, inter alia, sending letters of protest to all senators, holding numerous meetings with them, thus explaining the bias and flaw of the AJR 32, its contradiction to America's stated foreign policy and national interests, as well as the fact that this racist resolution justified ethnic cleansing and illegal occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia," he added.
In spite of all the pressure by this ethnic lobby on senators using threats, blackmail and other means, 17 out of 40 senators refused to vote for the resolution Aug. 27, according to the statement.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan.
As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the U.S. are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented four U.N. Security Council resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.