The U.S. president has nominated special envoy for Eurasian energy Richard Morningstar for ambassador to Azerbaijan.
This is a very symptomatic decision which indicates that Azerbaijan interests the United States in terms of energy. The U.S. president conveyed that he is unlikely to connect the issue of Karabakh settlement with other political problems and wishes to build cooperation with Azerbaijan within the scope of energy.
The ex-ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza whose nomination was not affirmed by the Congress dealt with political issues. He was the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair for several years and was unable to quit this role. He explained the cooperation between the United States and Azerbaijan by the settlement of the Karabakh settlement, acting on the side of Baku rather than Washington.
Therefore perhaps the Western pipeline projects which were supposed to transport gas from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to Europe appeared in a deadlock. They were too tightly connected with political issues including Azerbaijan’s claims regarding the Karabakh settlement.
Now the United States is changing the priorities. They appoint an ambassador who deals with pipes. Morningstar is an influential man and his nomination means that the United States is set to deal with Azerbaijan’s energy seriously and reach the layout of the Transcaspian pipe without linking it to the Karabakh issue.
What is the attitude of the Armenian lobby to Morningstar’s nomination? Bryza was recalled due to the efforts of the Armenian lobby. The Armenians considered this policy too pro-Turkish and torpedoed his affirmation. Although, it was obvious that the U.S. administration was not delighted with Bryza and his efforts to join politics and energy.
No doubt energy and politics cannot be interrelated, and Azerbaijan will continue to seek for support to return Karabakh in return for its resources and transit. However, diplomacy is diplomacy in order not to pay a price for an item which which is much higher than the actual cost of the item. Meanwhile, for the United States, Karabakh is too high a price for the Azerbaijani oil.