The U.S. Secretary Tillerson has answered the questions of the American congressmen Brad Sherman and David Cicilline, the Washington office of ANCA informed. In his answer Tillerson reasserts the commitment of the Department of State to fast completion of full humanitarian demining in Artsakh, withdrawal of snipers from the line of contact, creating systems for monitoring ceasefire breaches, equipment for detecting breaches.
The answer of the U.S. Secretary Tillerson is a special signal ahead of the visit of the Minsk Group co-chairs to the region.
This visit is going to be the first one for the new American co-chair Andrew Shofer. Will the new co-chair bring a new U.S. policy into the Minsk Group-mediated process? At least, the former interim co-chair Hoagland who was appointed at the borderline of the change of administrations, announced on leaving about the activation of the U.S. policy in the Minsk Group. He said this will happen after full formation of the administration and foreign policy in the upcoming few months.
At the end of the day, Tillerson’s answer to the American Congressmen contains the guidelines which should be underlying the activity of the new American co-chair in the Minsk Group.
These guidelines could be brought together for the following purpose. The priority for the United States is to ensure maximum long-term predictability and stability in the Artsakh area, and Rex Tillerson’s answer to the congressmen supports the approaches that are called to serve this priority.
By the way, in this sense it is also symbolic that the new American co-chair Andrew Schofer has been introduced as a diplomat with experience of participation in conflict settlement, including Cyprus. And currently it is the “most unsettled conflict or one of them on the international map. The United States appoints a diplomat with experience of “settlement” of this conflict.
At the same time, Tillerson’s hint ahead of the regional visit of the co-chairs outlines the agenda that Washington sees for the Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting. In this context, it is interesting that an article published in the Russian press on the Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting “prompts” Sargsyan to go and approve “Lavrov’s plan” on withdrawing the Armenian armed forces without preconditions or not to go there at all. In fact, the article published in the Russian press was full of blackmail addressed to Serzh Sargsyan.
Was this Russia’s concern that the United States may succeed in transferring the Artsakh conflict into a lasting stage of predictability and stability or Azerbaijan’s concerns published in the Russian press?
Of course, the second option is more realistic due to some reasons. At least, the Kremlin would hardly have decided to express its concerns through a publication by Rosbalt Agency.
On the other hand, Moscow is not against Azerbaijan expressing concerns through the Russian media because the Kremlin does not want any military tension. On the other hand, predictability and stability is not desirable because it will be a basic step towards withdrawing the Russian issue from the monopoly of the Russian management.
At the end of the day, it is not improbable that Moscow will eventually take that step under pressure. At least, it is visible from the behavior of both Russia and Turkey that Plan B is important, if not primary, which supposes their maneuver at Aliyev’s expense.
The point is that the solid resistance of the Armenian armed forces and public to the April war has created a new situation and driven to a deadlock not only Baku’s military diplomacy but also Moscow and Turkey. This deadlock can be overcome by two out of three, the odd one out. Moscow and Ankara view Aliyev as the odd one out, evidence to which is subtle expressions of attitude to him recently.