By Sara Rajabova
There is no question that Nagorno - Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan and it must remain under the jurisdiction of this country in order to avoid a protracted warfare and the killing of innocent people.
Peter Tase, Special Assistant to the Secretary General of the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies and to the Executive Secretary of the Global Engineering Deans Council made a remark in an interview with Day.Az website.
Tase said the Nagorno - Karabakh conflict is one of the longest standing and most violent conflicts in the Caucasus region in the post-Soviet period, lasting for more than six years. "During almost 20 years of sporadic confrontations, the international community has made numerous attempts to bring this conflict to a peaceful settlement."
The Nagorno - Karabakh conflict emerged in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Since a lengthy war in the early 1990s that displaced over one million Azerbaijanis, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions.
Peace talks, mediated by Russia, France and the U.S. through the OSCE Minsk Group, which is underway on the basis of a peace outline proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs and dubbed the Madrid Principles, have been largely fruitless so far.
Tase said it is unfortunate that the OSCE has failed to invite both parties into the negotiating table and bring this conflict to an end, stressing that this conflict must be solved by using peaceful means, Armenia should respect the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and abandon its hegemonic behavior as well as a high level of violence which resonates the attitude of medieval empires against their neighbors.
He noted that Armenian armed forces have violated the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis were expelled from all the territories occupied by the Armenians, adding that the OSCE Minsk Group has not demonstrated a tangible wisdom to resolve the problem.
"The territory of Azerbaijan continues to be for more than 20 years under occupation, internally displaced people cannot return into their homes. Armenia is holding back the regional economic development and is the main security threat to the Caspian region. It is essential for the Armenian armed forces to withdraw from these territories and respect the international law and Azerbaijan's territorial integrity," Tase said.
He went on to say that the international community must condemn the sporadic ceasefire violations by the Armenian armed forces.
In August, 2014, the Armenian soldiers killed fourteen Azerbaijani soldiers, which was the largest loss in a single attack since the ceasefire of 1994.
Tase stressed that the Armenian reconnaissance groups attacked Azerbaijani positions as the regional tensions are on a knife - edge after Russia has been confronted with the sanctions from Western countries over the annexation of Crimea and the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine.
He further noted that over the last two decades, Azerbaijan has considered the United States as one of its principal strategic partners with hopes that Washington would be an effective negotiator in mediating territorial disputes between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Tase added that, however, American policy-makers in the Congress and Executive Branch don't show necessary attention to the issue of the preservation of territorial integrity of independent states such as Azerbaijan.
"For 20 years, Azerbaijan has maintained the conviction that the United States is the most reliable mediator that will somehow and someday contribute to a peaceful resolution to the frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh in Southern Caucasus. However, some international experts have increasingly questioned the priorities of the United States whether it is advocating the short-term goals or the long-term objectives in order to uphold a peaceful solution to the illegal invasion of Nagorno - Karabakh and hopefully bring an end to the constant belligerent attitude of the Armenian armed forces," Tase said.
Touching upon the resolution approved by the California State Senate, he said these initiatives are merely political acts of sympathy sponsored by the Armenian diaspora in the United States and do not have a significant role to shape, guide or implement the U.S. Foreign Policy.
California's Senate passed a resolution of anti-Azerbaijani nature (AJR 32) on August 27, calling for the recognition of a separatist regime in Azerbaijan's occupied territories.
The resolution was introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto at the behest of the Armenian lobby, who submitted the proposal to California's State legislature on January 6.
Tase underlined that these actions do not affect the overall U.S. Foreign Policy and America's deeply rooted alliance with Azerbaijan.
- The U.S. and Azerbaijan are strategic partners in many areas. What do you think about the cooperation between the two countries?
He went on to note that Washington has always been committed to strengthen the democratic institutions, sustainable economic growth and foster an open market economy in Azerbaijan. He said the Azerbaijani diaspora in the U.S. is an important component of the excellent relations between both countries.
"In the area of regional security and stability, Azerbaijan has always played a key role and has been a trusted ally of the U.S. However, the U.S. State Department must be more active towards strengthening the cooperation initiatives with the Azerbaijani government," Tase said.
In regards to the bilateral economic and trade relations, he added that Azerbaijan has a bilateral investment treaty with the United States and the U.S. companies are heavily involved in offshore oil development projects and in telecommunications.
Tase said Azerbaijan is one of the countries that benefits from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Program, which enables its products to be exported to the U.S. market under the framework of a duty free entry.
Recalling his visit to Baku for participation in the fourth International Humanitarian Forum in early October, Tase said he witnessed the tremendous development of infrastructure.
"Azerbaijan is currently playing a vital role towards fostering intercultural dialogue, religious tolerance and promotion of peace and democratic values worldwide. Over the last decade, the government of President Ilham Aliyev has always emphasized the religious tolerance and peaceful solution of current regional and global disputes and disagreements. The government has made great efforts to make Azerbaijan one of the most developed countries in Eurasia and beyond. These are historic times for Azerbaijan, it is a nation with dynamic leaders, full of potential and its hard working people will always have a brighter future," Tase said.
He noted that Azerbaijan over the last two decades has experienced an admirable economic growth, a multi faceted development, modernized its infrastructure, drafted a visionary constitution, embraced environmental friendly initiatives, and has been very effective on the war against corruption and the organized crime.
Tase stressed that the positive reforms set by the government should serve as a perfect example and success story to those under-developed countries that aspire to reach high levels of economic development and eradicate poverty.