By Emil Danielyan
The UN General Assembly put off indefinitely late Tuesday a vote on a resolution supporting Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after the United States and other international mediators warned that it would hamper their long-running peace efforts.
The resolution, sponsored by Turkey and Pakistan, reaffirms Baku’s sovereignty over Karabakh and expresses “grave concern" at the continuing Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani lands around the disputed enclave. Its passage would have been a huge embarrassment for Armenia.
The position of the U.S., Russia and France, which co-chair the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, appears to have been instrumental in the vote’s postponement until an unspecified later date. Azerbaijan has repeatedly accused them of doing little to restore its control over Karabakh.
Speaking on behalf of the mediators, U.S. envoy Susan Moore told the General Assembly that its interference in the dispute could further undermine “confidence between the parties.” “Anything in the direction of building confidence and of avoiding a division of the General Assembly is helpful,” she said, according to Reuters.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, however, insisted that that the UN’s "continued strong support" for his country’s territorial integrity is essential for speeding up a resolution of the conflict. Addressing the assembly, he repeated Baku’s claims that the Armenians are not interested in a peaceful settlement and are trying to annex the occupied Azerbaijan territories by populating them with Armenian settlers.
The allegations were rebutted by Armen Martirosian, Armenia’s ambassador at the UN. He reportedly reiterated the Armenian position that the seven districts in Azerbaijan proper were occupied as a result of Azerbaijan’s attempts to win back Karabakh by force and that their return is conditional on a comprehensive peace accord. He also charged that Azerbaijan itself pioneered ethnic cleansing in the conflict by unleashing pogroms of its ethnic Armenian citizens in 1988-90.
In Yerevan, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian appeared satisfied with the UN delay. “We should try to neutralize negative consequences [of Azerbaijan’s diplomatic initiatives] through our Foreign Ministry,” he told reporters.
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, for his part, warned on Tuesday that the passage of the pro-Azerbaijani resolution would reverse progress which he said he and Mammadyarov made during peace talks earlier this year.