TODAY.AZ / Voice of Diaspora

Azerbaijani-American Council releases statement on ongoing Karabakh Peace Process

24 July 2009 [15:27] - TODAY.AZ
Azerbaijani-American Council has released a statement on ongoing Karabakh Peace Process.
"On July 17-18, 2009, within the framework of OSCE Minsk Group, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan held another round of meetings in Moscow aimed at a peaceful resolution of the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On this occasion, the two main Armenian-American organizations isssued statements expressing their concern about the ongoing progress in the internationally-monitored peace process between the two countries," the statement said.

"In a letter addressed on July 14, 2009 to President Obama, the Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), Mr. Kenneth Khachikian, complained about the allegedly "undue and unreasonable pressure being applied in a heavily-handed manner upon Armenia by the [OSCE] Minsk Group Co-Chair countries to force unilateral and dangerous concessions". Interpreting the 2008 campaign pledge by President Obama, ANCA Chairman calls for the inclusion of the so-called "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic" in the process of negotiations."

"Furthermore, on July 22, 2009, the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) issued a statement also calling for the inclusion of the so-called "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic" in the negotiations, again reciting the same campaign comments by President Obama, while indicating that "the Assembly strongly supports the fundamental rights of the people of Nagorno Karabakh".

"Back in January, 2008, speaking on the importance of U.S.-Armenia relations, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged to work “for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination", As Azerbaijani-Americans, we can't agree more with these words of President Obama that the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be acceptable to both the "principal" parties, Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as the "interested" parties, the Armenian and the Azerbaijani communities of Nagorno-Karabakh. In fact, these definitions of conflicting parties as well as the conditions for their engagement in the peace process were already outlined in the "Baker Rules" proposed in 1992 by the mission of the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, OSCE Minsk group predecessor), led by then U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker III, and were accepted by all parties."

"It is concerning, however, that while both Armenian-American organizations claim to support "the fundamental rights of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh", they deliberately omit the ethnic Azerbaijani community, which prior to the conflict in 1988 comprised the third of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh and 99% of the population of 7 other surrounding regions of Azerbaijan, currently occupied by Armenia as a "buffer zone". From 1991 till 1994, up to 800,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were subjected to a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign by Armenian forces and a complete exodus from all of the above mentioned regions. Hence claiming the rights of only one ethnic group of a disputed region, third of the population of which is forced into exile for over 16 years, is actually contrary to the very core American founding values, quoted by ANCA and AAA in President Obama's campaign pledge. Self-determination is not an internationally accepted term for justifying an ethnic cleansing and a denial of existence. In this light, "the just cause of the Armenian people of Nagorno Karabakh", claimed to be pursued by the Armenian Assembly of America, cannot come at the expense of infringing upon the human rights and the livelihood of another ethnicity - Azerbaijanis."

"For the same reason, the calls by ANCA and AAA for the participation of the "duly elected representatives" of the so-called "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic" in the negotiation process, on equal terms with the principal sides, are counter productive. Reputable international institutions, such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE, not to mention the ethnic Azerbaijani constituents of Nagorno-Karabakh, unequivocally called the "elections" orchestrated in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh as well as "the elected officials" thereof as illegitimate, for a simple reason - no elections can be recognized legitimate when the third of constituents is stripped of their right to vote and live in exile solely due to their ethnicity. Thus, no government can engage in a dialog with an illegitimate "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic", and the only party with whom the leaders of Karabakh's Armenian community can and should speak on an equal basis are the leaders of region's exiled Azerbaijani community."

Azerbaijani-American Council continues to monitor the progress in the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations over Nagorno-Karabakh and hopes for a final and lasting peace to be achieved in the nearest future.

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