BY RUPEN JANBAZIAN
In a recent exclusive interview with RFE/RL Armenian service’s Sargis Harutyunyan, Co-Chairman of Armenian Assembly of America Anthony Barsamian spoke about United States-Armenian relations under President-elect Trump’s administration.
During the interview, Harutyunyan asks Barsamian if the U.S. will lose interest in the mediation process of the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) conflict because of a more isolated foreign policy under a Trump administration, to which Barsamian answers that he believes the opposite is true.
In his answer, Barsamian brings up the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) latest statement, which he calls “excellent.” Barsamian points to the part of the statement, which he says brought up “the atrocities, as are related to April,” and that the Minsk Group has “basically come very heavily on the side of Armenia, in terms of seeing that Azerbaijan were the aggressors and committed war crimes.”
If Barsamian was referring to the Dec. 8 joint-statement by the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries reinstating their commitment “to a negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” then I beg to differ.
“Excellent” is not the first adjective I would use to describe that statement.
I’d go for another word: “troubling.”
A statement calling for the “return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control,” is troubling.
A statement chock-full of false parity, expressing “concern over continuing armed incidents” and “strongly” condemning “the use of force or the threat of the use of force,” without naming an aggressor, is troubling.
A statement that urges both parties to “remove all remaining obstacles to expanding the mission of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and to make progress on a proposal to establish an OSCE investigative mechanism,” when it is in fact only one party—Azerbaijan—that consistently impedes processes for peace and security in the region, is troubling.
On November 21, Ambassador James Warlick announced his plans to resign as U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group at the end of the year to join a Russian law firm Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev and Partners. The State Department has not yet announced who will replace him.
Yes, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition has created a real sense of uncertainty for Armenian-Americans and U.S.-Armenia relations.
But one thing is clear. American-Armenians must be vocal about Warlick’s replacement.
And they must demand better.
They must also be sure to call a spade a spade: the OSCE’s latest statement was not excellent—far from it, in fact.