U.S. co-chair raises objections among Azerbaijani officials
By Sara Rajabova
Azerbaijani officials have recently voiced dissatisfaction with the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk group because of his pro-Armenian position.
James Warlick's comments on social networks have repeatedly caused concern for the Azerbaijani side.
Warlick, who is brokering the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict alongside his Russian and French co-chairs, actively uses social networks to convey his thoughts on the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry officials have repeatedly advised Warlick to be mindful of his statements and get to know all the aspects of the conflict.
Azerbaijani Parliamentary Speaker Ogtay Asadov has criticized the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group, saying the co-chairs are trying to present the separatist regime in Nagorno-Karabakh as a "party" to the negotiations.
"Did someone recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as a state?" Asadov said at a parliamentary meeting on May 2. "We should pay special attention to this fact. All four UN Security Council resolutions should be implemented, and all structures should work in this direction."
He said the Armenian diaspora in the U.S. recently planned to hold an event in which co-chair Warlick had to take part; however, he changed his mind just in time and did not attend.
Asadov also suggested that the discussion on the OSCE Minsk group report be included in the agenda of the 23rd session of the Parliamentary Assembly (PA) of the OSCE, which will be held in Baku.
Regarding Warlick's recent statements, MP Fuad Muradov said the thoughts voiced by him throw a shadow on the co-chair's peaceful mediation efforts.
"I would like to believe that such people will not be able to harm Azerbaijani-U.S. relations," Muradov said.
One of the American co-chair's recent comments which displeased the Azerbaijani side was the statement that "the parties to the conflict are Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan."
"I was corrected today - the conflict is Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan," Warlick wrote on his Twitter page.
This is in contradiction with the internationally-known fact that Armenia has occupied Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven regions attached to it and still ignores four UN resolutions on immediate withdrawal from the occupied lands.
Azerbaijani Presidential Administration's Deputy Head and Director of Administration's Foreign Relations Department Novruz Mammadov recently said sometimes it seems that Warlick is trying to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through his tweets.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has said Baku can raise the issue of removing of Warlick as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Deputy Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Araz Azimov said in his interview with local media that the Azerbaijani side has every reason to express distrust about Warlick, refuse to work with him, and appeal to the OSCE Chairman to remove Warlick from his post.
"Warlick leaves no choice for the Azerbaijani side," Azimov said.
He noted that Azerbaijan knows that the American co-chair has close ties to the representatives of the Armenian community which holds an irreconcilable position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Azimov said Warlick's activities contradict with his statements urging neutrality among the co-chairs.
He noted that Azerbaijan cannot turn a blind eye to this kind of steps by the co-chair and has repeatedly expressed its official dissatisfaction.
Armenia occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions, after laying territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor that caused a brutal war in the early 1990s.
The UN Security Council's four resolutions on Armenian withdrawal have not been enforced to this day.
Peace talks, mediated by Russia, France and the US and the OSCE Minsk Group are underway on the basis of a peaceful outline -called Madrid Principle -proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs. The negotiations have been largely fruitless so far.