The U.S. Ambassador in Azerbaijan Robert Cekuta has shared details about his meeting with the American co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Andrew Schofer. They exchanged thoughts on the steps that are necessary to achieve progress in the process. The new U.S. administration has made decisions on how it is necessary to continue this process, he said. Cekuta said the meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Geneva is a positive step but further steps and more efforts are needed.
The ambassador did not specify what decisions he meant. A month ago the U.S. Secretary Rex Tillerson published his vision of the Artsakh settlement, supporting the Congress position on full demining in Artsakh, withdrawal of snipers and introduction of surveillance mechanisms. One should suppose that these three points are the decisions of the administration in the current stage. The new American co-chair Schofer followed him to speak about the surveillance mechanisms.
The U.S. Secretary spoke when the Vienna agenda seemed to have been “missed” in messages and Minsk Group co-chairs on meetings of the sides. There was no word about it in the Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting in Geneva which was followed by controversial comments, such as the comment that the Armenian side has reneged on its conditions for resuming the talks which were, in fact, the Vienna agenda.
The statement by the U.S. Ambassador in Azerbaijan on the Geneva meeting is worth attention. The Geneva meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan is a positive step but it is necessary to continue steps and do more work, he said. This may mean that the American side does not consider “separate” agreements sufficient, hinting on additional steps, such as the surveillance mechanism or international recognition of the Artsakh-Azerbaijani border.
The statement of the U.S. ambassador in Azerbaijan is also interesting in the context of leaks on the Putin-Erdogan “plan on Karabakh” in the Azerbaijani mass media according to which 5 territories are returned to Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan joins the EEU and CSTO, Russian troops are stationed in Karabakh.
Unless the Armenian side has stepped back from its conditions, negotiations will start only after guarantees of security, such as the investigation mechanism. Otherwise, if the Armenian side goes for “separate” agreements, it means return of the situation to the pre-April stage with the right of Azerbaijan to war or the Russia-Turkey-Azerbaijan “format” with ensuing consequences.