By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Even the most uninformed person on earth is aware by now that Turkey is a major accomplice of ISIS. There have been countless news reports in the global media documenting Turkish complicity. Amazingly, there is one American diplomat who seems to be clueless about Turkey’s destructive role in the region, not only in Syria and Iraq, but also in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh)!
How could the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) be that ignorant to give a speech praising Turkey’s “valuable” role in the effort to settle the Artsakh conflict?
In his December 17 statement to OSCE’s Permanent Council, Amb. Daniel B. Baer had the audacity to praise Turkey’s “constructive role as a Minsk Group member” in the Artsakh conflict. He went on to state that “Turkey has been a valuable member of the Minsk Group and has worked cooperatively with the Co-Chairs on finding a way forward in peace talks” between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Amb. Baer expressed his disagreement with Alexander Lukashevich, Russia’s Ambassador to the OSCE, who had questioned two days earlier “Turkey’s constructiveness as a Minsk Group member.” The Russian Ambassador had criticized Turkey for siding with “one of the parties of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict [Azerbaijan],” and described Ankara’s position as “unacceptable” and “absolutely destructive.”
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken Hachikian denounced Amb. Baer’s statement, calling it “reckless.” Hachikian noted Turkey’s long list of staunchly pro-Azerbaijan policies: “The Erdogan government actively supports Aliyev’s virulent anti-Armenian positions, openly providing military aid and training to the Azerbaijani military, while, at the same time, blockading Armenia, contrary to international law, and seeking to isolate Yerevan in the international arena.”
The ANCA Chairman wondered why “U.S. officials allow themselves to be used as props in Erdogan’s farce, pretending that the Turkish government will -- against all evidence -- play the role of some sort of impartial mediator?” Hachikian concluded: “This Administration’s shameful legacy of endlessly caving in to Turkish threats -- at the expense of our own values and interests as a nation -- is truly a national disgrace -- an embarrassment beneath the dignity of the American people.”
Several members of the U.S. Congress also condemned Amb. Baer’s scandalous remarks. Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said he was “troubled by the recent statement praising Turkey’s role in the Minsk Group peace process made by our U.S. Representative to the OSCE. Turkey’s active and overt support of Azerbaijan with regard to the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict has been apparent from the beginning. A statement like this will only serve to polarize the negotiations.”
House Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff of California stated unequivocally that “given Turkey’s behavior and longstanding support for Baku, they cannot be considered -- in any way -- a neutral broker in what has become an increasingly intense conflict along the Line of Contact.” Cong. Schiff further suggested that “instead of stacking the table against Nagorno Karabagh, all nations should insist upon the deployment of monitoring technology along the border, a step that Armenia has readily agreed to but has been resisted by Azerbaijan, doubtless because it would demonstrate their unprovoked aggression.”
This writer has yet to see a reaction from Armenia challenging Amb. Baer’s ill-advised and inappropriate remarks. Silence would imply agreement with the U.S. Ambassador’s unfortunate words. In fact, Amb. Baer should be severely criticized by everyone, Armenians and non-Armenians alike, for encouraging Turkey’s detrimental meddling in the Artsakh conflict. Instead of praising Turkey’s “constructive” and “valuable” role, the U.S. Ambassador should have followed the example of his Russian counterpart and lashed out at Ankara’s sinister and destructive efforts.
Two years ago, when he was sworn in as envoy to OSCE, Amb. Baer released a video in which he cheerfully announced: “My partner, Brian, and I, are excited to live in Vienna, along with our greyhound, Cleo. We look forward to exploring a wonderful city, and going skiing and hiking in Austria, and to traveling around the OSCE region.”
Amb. Baer seems more interested in tourism at US taxpayers’ expense than engaging in serious diplomatic work. If that is the case, Pres. Obama should relieve the Ambassador of his duties, so he can continue his sightseeing tour of Europe at his own expense!