US envoy talks post-conflict peace, economy, bilateral ties
By Sabina Mammadli
The US is interested in increasing opportunities for its own companies in Karabakh, Azernews reports, citing Ambassador to Azerbaijan Earle Litzenberger.
He made the remarks during a briefing on June 9.
According to the ambassador, currently, several US companies are working in Karabakh.
“We would like to see more opportunities for our companies. The US companies have the best technologies, including in the sphere of renewable energy sources (RES). They can offer advanced technologies at the best prices," Litzenberger said.
Talking about the recent announcement of the US that it is providing humanitarian demining assistance in Karabakh, the ambassador expressed hope that the country will be able to continue to do more because the need is so great.
"Until the area is cleared of mines, I don’t think we are going to be able to see IDPs returning in large numbers, which is ultimately the goal to create conditions for the people to return to their homes," he said.
Moreover, Litzenberger noted that although section 907 is still in effect, it has not deterred or in any way impeded US's ability to provide critical security assistance to Azerbaijan.
“The assistance we’ve provided has been focused on helping Azerbaijan secure its southern border. We’ve provided scanners, and training to enable Azerbaijani customs and border officials to stop the flow of illegal narcotics or any other items that might be smuggled. We’ve seen significant seizures of narcotics, we’ve seen those seizures go up as we have provided equipment and training to Azerbaijani customs and border officials,” he noted.
Normalization of relations
Further, Litzenberger stated that the US is in dialogue with Azerbaijan and Armenia to support the peace process.
He expressed his belief that direct contacts are of great importance, mentioning that the US can play an important role in this process.
“The EU is doing a very successful job in this direction, and we support it. Contacts are maintained at the level of leaders, at the level of foreign ministers. A working group on border delimitation has been set up. Opening communications is of great importance,” the ambassador added.
Moreover, the ambassador stated that the US supports the efforts of each country to establish peace in the region, noting that Turkiye is one of such countries.
He further added that the country welcomes the normalization of relations between Turkiye and Armenia.
“We would like to see such progress between Azerbaijan and Armenia. I am very optimistic about the opportunity that Armenia and Azerbaijan have to reach a lasting peace. We are making progress," Litzenberger said.
Talking about US aid to Azerbaijan, the ambassador noted that the country has also provided assistance to help Azerbaijan increase its maritime awareness in the Caspian Sea and be able to monitor what’s happening in its part of the Caspian to prevent illegal activities and to protect the critical energy infrastructure that exists offshore, the oil wells, the gas wells, pipelines that are bringing Azerbaijani oil and gas to western markets.
"Right now through the Southern Gas Corridor, Azerbaijani gas is going to Italy helping to diversify Europe’s energy sources," he noted.
Additionally, he said that there are various ways to increase supplies of energy from Azerbaijan to Europe.
“The Trans-Caspian Pipeline project is one way to increase gas supply, and discussions on technical and policy issues are underway. Azerbaijan can play a significant role in supplying more gas to Europe. At the moment, European demand for gas is high, and it will remain high as Europe seeks to diversify supply sources,” Litzenberger said.
Moreover, he noted that Azerbaijan also has great potential for wind and solar energy.
During the same event, the ambassador noted that the bilateral relations between the US and Azerbaijan have intensified.
"Relations are increasingly developing. Recently, visits and phone conversations have become more frequent," Litzenberger noted.
Later, Litzenberger informed that his time in Azerbaijan will be coming to a close this summer, expressing hope that the US-Azerbaijan relationship will be in good hands in the future as well.
"I am deeply honored that I’ve had the chance to serve as the US ambassador to Azerbaijan here in Baku. It has been an incredible time, we’ve witnessed a number of historic events and changes in the region. I know that the relationship will be in good hands in the future. This year we continue to mark the 30th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s diplomatic relations with the US,” he added.
According to him, there is no greater supporter of independence and democracy in the South Caucasus than the US.
“Thinking about the next 30 years, I am very optimistic. I want to reiterate that the US stands ready to help find peace and construct the economic transportation and people-to-people connections to help the entire region prosper. As Secretary Blinken said, we deeply value Azerbaijan’s contribution to the global fight against terrorism and illicit trade networks. We’re committed to promoting a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future for Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus region. We stand ready to help be engaged bilaterally. I’ve seen a lot of bilateral engagement recently," he said.
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