WASHINGTON—Hours after U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Daniel Baer’s statement citing Turkey’s “valuable” role in Nagorno-Karabagh mediation efforts was released, members of Congress began to express serious concerns about the top diplomat’s controversial assessment, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) explained that he is “troubled by the recent statement praising Turkey’s role in the Minsk Group peace process made by our U.S. Representative to the OSCE. Turkey’s active and overt support of Azerbaijan with regard to the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict has been apparent from the beginning. A statement like this will only serve to polarize the negotiations.”
House Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) argued that “given Turkey’s behavior and longstanding support for Baku, they cannot be considered—in any way—a neutral broker in what has become an increasingly intense conflict along the Line of Contact.”
Schiff placed focus on the concrete mediation steps the OSCE can take in helping stop the escalating violence in the region, suggesting, “instead of stacking the table against Nagorno-Karabagh, all nations should insist upon the deployment of monitoring technology along the border, a step that Armenia has readily agreed to but has been resisted by Azerbaijan, doubtless because it would demonstrate their unprovoked aggression.”
Pallone and Schiff’s statements follow remarks by Baer on Dec. 17, made public on Dec. 18, in which he praised Turkey’s role in the OSCE Minsk Group-facilitated Karabagh negotiations: “Turkey has been a valuable member of the Minsk Group and has worked cooperatively with the co-chairs on finding a way forward in peace talks.”
ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian immediately spoke out against the statement, noting, “Ankara makes no secret of its pro-Baku bias, and long ago abandoned any pretense of neutrality. Look at the facts: The Erdogan government actively supports [Azerbaijan’s President Ilham] Aliyev’s virulent anti-Armenian positions, openly providing military aid and training to the Azerbaijani military, while, at the same time, blockading Armenia, contrary to international law, and seeking to isolate Yerevan in the international arena. Turkey’s strategy—and the international community’s unwillingness to call them out on it—has emboldened an aggressive and intransigent Azerbaijan to increase its attacks—leading to more than 43 Armenian deaths in 2015 alone.”
Hachikian concluded that “tearing down the firewall between Turkey and the Karabagh talks would only result in adding more fuel to the fire, setting back the cause of lasting peace.”
Schiff’s calls for the deployment of monitoring technology is an important element of a three-pronged plan, advanced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), supported by Schiff and more than 80 House colleagues, that calls on the top U.S. Karabagh negotiator, Ambassador James Warlick, to secure the withdrawal of snipers, bring in additional OSCE monitors, and put in place a gun locator system to identify the parties initiating ceasefire violations.
Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno-Karabagh have agreed to the congressional proposal, as has the Obama Administration. Azerbaijan remains alone in refusing to implement the life-saving measures.
Royce, at the Capitol Hill Celebration of Karabagh Peace and Freedom last week, announced that his committee will be hosting a briefing with Warlick to follow up on the implementation of the Royce-Engel proposals for peace.
The Royce-Engel Letter for #NKPeace signed by 85 U.S. House Members is available here.
Unlivable so much favoritism by Obama’s administration toward Turkey even though it has been obvious for so long how much Turkey has contributed to ISIS growth.