The U.S. State Department flatly denied on Wednesday an Azerbaijani press report alleging that Washington has threatened to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state unless Baku commits to a peaceful resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute.
The “Yeni Musavat” daily claimed that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tina Kaidanow issued the warning during a recent visit to the Azerbaijani capital. It cited Kaidanow as telling Azerbaijani leaders that they should avoid attempting to win back Karabakh by force or risk a formal U.S. recognition of the region’s secession from Azerbaijan.
Terry Davidson, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baku, dismissed the report as “manufactured.” “She said nothing like that,” Davidson said in a statement.
“Tina Kaidanow did speak at length about U.S. support for a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in an interview with ANS TV,” he added. “In that interview, she said ‘I think it’s important to say right away that the United States is very supportive of a peaceful and a just resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.’”
Analysts also disputed the credibility of the report, saying that it contradicted Karabakh-related policies of successive U.S. administrations. Rasim Musabekov, a prominent Azerbaijani pundit, suggested that it was an attempt by unspecified forces to undermine Azerbaijan’s relations with the U.S.
“I don’t rule out that there are people not really interested in the development of U.S.-Azerbaijani relations,” Musabekov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service by phone.
He noted that the “Yeni Musavat” report coincided with a visit to Washington by an Azerbaijani government delegation. The delegation comprises senior Azerbaijani diplomats and security officials.
Richard Giragosian, the director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies, likewise spoke of an “attempt to poison relations between the United States and Azerbaijan.” He said Azerbaijan’s marginalized opposition may thereby be trying to tell Washington that it “should not be so friendly and so supportive” of President Ilham Aliyev.