US taking keen interest in dialogue between Baku and Yerevan
    Pursuing its goals

    ANALYTICS  02 December 2022 - 10:04

    Matanat Nasibova

    With the beginning of the post-conflict period in the region, the United States, along with Russia and Europe, also show an interest, at least externally, in the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. The activity of Washington in this issue is mainly proved by the frequent visits of senior representatives of the American foreign policy to Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as recent calls of the White House for direct dialogue between Baku and Yerevan.

    US readiness to support direct contacts between Azerbaijan and Armenia was mentioned in the recent statement of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on the eve of the November meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers Jeyhun Bayramov and Ararat Mirzoyan in Washington. The same thesis was voiced by the US State Department's chief adviser on Caucasus negotiations, Philip Reeker, at a meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov in Baku. "The US supports direct dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia and urges that this momentum continues into the new year," the American diplomat stressed.

    The involvement of Americans in resolving the situation between Baku and Yerevan is generally a positive sign. However, it is also a challenge for Moscow and Brussels, which actually try to seize the initiative from each other in the negotiations. So the Americans have to use a rather cunning combination: Washington urges Baku and Yerevan to sit down at the negotiating table and try to resolve as many as possible the problems that prevent the signing of a final document. This approach can be viewed as the US' desire to become the main moderator of the Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations. After the collapse of the OSCE Minsk Group, the US and the other former co-chairs lost their mandate of direct involvement in the settlement process, but have certainly not lost interest in the region and the events taking place there. Therefore, there is no doubt that the Americans would like to guide and monitor the stages of the talks themselves, as well as the fact that Moscow, Brussels, and now Paris would definitively like to take on this mission.

    However, the difference is that during the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan by the Armenian invaders, the US limited its rhetorical statements to the need to "solve the Karabakh conflict by diplomatic methods" (through the mediation of the co-chairmen of MG OSCE), now, the current activity of Washington in trying to direct Baku and Yerevan "to the path of peace" was most likely caused by the victory of Azerbaijan in 2020. Baku has closed the Karabakh problem, and, importantly, this fact is not disputed in Moscow, Brussels, and Washington, recognizing it as part of Azerbaijan. For Baku, this is yet another indicator of its diplomatic success. On the other hand, contacts between the parties to the conflict are more in Baku's interests than in those of Yerevan, whose leadership is unable to make independent decisions without looking back at Moscow and the support of France, to which the President of Azerbaijan has unequivocally shown the door.

    Remarkably, the US constantly declares the need to delimit the border, which is again in Baku's interests and disadvantages Armenia, so it is torpedoing this opportunity.

    To remind, a special online briefing of the US Permanent Representative to OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Michael Carpenter was held recently, during which the American diplomat stated the necessity of delimitation of the border.

    "Our goal is simple: we want the border to be delineated, we want to be a peaceful agreement between the two sides there, we want stability in the region, we want human rights to be respected, and we want a new page to be turned in the history of the South Caucasus. Obviously, the end result will take some time to achieve, but we're willing to do whatever we can to support that process," Carpenter said.

    This issue was certainly on the agenda of US State Department Senior Adviser on Caucasus Negotiations Philip Reeker's discussions in Armenia, where he went after his visit to Baku. Reeker's previous visit to Yerevan took place in September this year, almost immediately after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok at the 7th Eastern Economic Forum, as well as the visit of Armenian Defence Minister Suren Papikyan to the United States during the dramatic aggravation of the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conditional border.

    Some Armenian media then even reported about the restart of the OSCE MG format by Armenia and the US, without the participation of Azerbaijan, which was tantamount to absurdity. The activity of the US in the negotiation process shows that Washington will continue to seek to strengthen its presence in the South Caucasus, especially against the background of the visibly weakening position of Russia in the region. It is most likely that the US will continue to initiate the possibility of a meeting between representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan on its territory. That is why the US would hardly support the quadrilateral meeting of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, which was scheduled earlier (on December 7) with the participation of French President Emmanuel Macron and President of the European Council Charles Michel, especially taking into account the latest statements of Washington addressed to Baku and Yerevan. And this is quite a weighty argument for Baku, since President Ilham Aliyev has already refused to participate in another futile negotiation, and to some extent under the "supervision" of France on top of that.


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