“Where we do provide security assistance to Azerbaijan, we are careful to ensure it is used in full compliance with the law to counter terrorism, support the operational readiness of U.S. Armed Forces or coalition partners to counter terrorism, ensure Azerbaijan’s border security as long as it is determined that such assistance will not undermine or hamper ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan or be used for offensive purposes against Armenia,” Eric Rubin Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said in a statement before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission).
“The United States is working diligently to facilitate a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As a co-chair country of the OSCE Minsk Group, along with France and Russia, the United States has worked in recent months to articulate the substantial benefits that peace would bring to people across the region. In doing so, we are focusing on pragmatic steps to bring the sides into negotiations on a peace agreement based on the core principles of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act,” he said.
“We hope the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will agree to meet in the near future to continue the constructive dialogue begun at their summit last November. It also is important that both governments support Track II efforts to build people to people contacts between Azerbaijanis and Armenians. These kinds of confidence building measures can help to prepare citizens of both countries for peace, Eric Rubin stated.
He added that the US is troubled by the recent arrest of well-known journalist Rauf Mirkadirov, the subsequent investigation of Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif Yunusov, their poor treatment by the authorities, and confiscation of their passports.
“All three have been strong proponents of the Track II process and the Azerbaijani government’s actions will have a chilling effect on any contact between Azerbaijanis and Armenians,” he said, adding that “Helping both sides resolve this conflict is a key element of our relationships with both Azerbaijan and Armenia, and we fully support the Minsk Group co-chairs in their efforts to facilitate a more constructive phase of negotiations.”