A top Azerbaijani official on Thursday accused the United States of increasingly siding with Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and denounced U.S. support for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.
Reports from Baku said Ali Hasanov, the head of the political department of the Azerbaijani presidential administration, also praised Ankara for linking the implementation of the Turkish-Armenian normalization agreements with a Karabakh settlement. “The position of Turkey, which is a strategic ally of Azerbaijan, fully satisfies Baku,” he said.
“We are not happy with the activity of the United States in the process of settling the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Hasanov told journalists in Baku, according to AFP news agency.
“Unfortunately, some institutions and parties in the United States, under the influence of the Armenian lobby, are losing their neutrality and openly supporting Armenia,” he said. “We think this is not in accord with the mission of the United States, especially the American mission as co-chair of the Minsk Group.”
The U.S. is one of three co-chairs, along with France and Russia, of the so-called Minsk Group, which is trying to negotiate a resolution to the longstanding conflict. Hasanov claimed that U.S. pressure on Turkey over the agreements with Armenia comprises its impartiality in the Karabakh peace process.
The criticism came the day after Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev again stated that Baku has accepted the co-chairs’ recently amended peace plan on Karabakh “with minor exceptions.” He said the Armenian side is unwilling to go along with the proposed settlement and is now stalling for time.
The mediators have assured Baku that they will “try to convince it to accept that proposal,” Aliyev said, according to Azerbaijani media. “If they don’t accept this proposal, then I think [further] negotiations will become meaningless,” he warned.
Yuri Merzlyakov, the Minsk Group’s outgoing Russian co-chair, said late last month that Yerevan disagrees with some points of what the mediating troika calls “an updated version” of the basic principles of Karabakh peace originally put forward in 2007. He downplayed the unspecified objections, saying that they do not bode ill for the success of the protracted negotiating process.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian earlier dismissed the Azerbaijani statements as misleading. He claimed that the Azerbaijani “exceptions” outweigh provisions acceptable to Baku.