For the sake of peace, it is time to open a Stepanakert consulate now, Michael Rubin writes in an article published by The National Interest.
He says “it may seem counterintuitive to send American diplomats to a city under siege, but opening a consulate in Stepanakert would quiet conflict and perhaps promote peace.”
“The case for an American consulate in Nagorno-Karabakh—or Artsakh as locals call it—is multifold. While Armenia supports Artsakh’s nominal independence and Azerbaijan argues that it should control Nagorno-Karabakh in its entirety based on Soviet-era scrambling of borders, there is little dispute that the region has been its own entity for centuries,” the author writes.
“While Kosovo provides a precedent for the region’s independence, opening a diplomatic office or establishing a consulate would both not only help the United States monitor events, but might also dissuade Azeri, Turkish, and Arab mercenary forces who would target civilians in the region,” he notes.
If diplomacy is going to be the strategy of first resort, the State Department must be willing to be on the front lines, Michael Rubin says.
According to him, the Secretary of State should simply make clear to his counterparts in Turkey and Azerbaijan that their countries would be held accountable for any attack that endangered or damaged an American mission in Stepanakert.
“It is one thing for dictators like Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and İlham Aliyev to attack Nagorno-Karabakh when they believe they will suffer no consequences; it is another if they risk their diplomatic relationship with the United States over an errant missile or mortar. For the sake of peace, it is time to open a Stepanakert consulate now,” the author concludes.
Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a frequent author for the National Interest.