Armenian Paper Looks at Reasons For US Official’s Visit to Region


Golos Armenii, Yerevan
30 Mar 04

The US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage arrived in Baku on
26 March after his visit to Yerevan. But although it may seem strange,
until 29 March there was little information from Baku about a visit by
a top official of the White House. By the way we think that the main
goal of his visit to the CIS three capitals (Kiev, Yerevan, Baku) was
Baku. Let us note that a visit by such a senior official as Richard
Armitage to the region is quite an exceptional case. As a rule it
means that the White House wants to see firsthand what is happening
here rather than rely on information given to the Washington
administration by the American embassies in these countries. The last
visit by the US Deputy Secretary of State to Armenia was in October
1999. It was by Strobe Talbott. The visit was connected with prospects
for the Karabakh conflict settlement.

We think that the current situation is slightly different. The US
assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs,
Elizabeth Jones, said on the eve of the visit that the Karabakh issue
would be one of the main topics at talks. But then she made a small,
but significant point: “Washington wants to find out about the
priorities of a new head of Azerbaijani state and its government.” An
interesting statement. “What are Ilham Aliyev’s plans?”, in all
probability this question is on the White House agenda.

Probably Ilham Aliyev’s aggressive statements made recently caused
certain anxiety in Washington. Let us remind you of the Azerbaijani
president’s statements. He said that he does not intend to settle the
Karabakh problem, he does not want to make compromises, he is
displeased with the Minsk Group activities, Turkey must not open its
border to Armenia, and finally, in spite of the obligation, taken by
Azerbaijan when it joined the European Union, about an exclusively
peaceful settlement of the problem, “peaceful talks may not continue

All this could not but prick up White House administration’s ears,
which is hoping to gain progress in Armenian-Turkish relations and
find a solution to the Karabakh conflict during this year. In all
probability in the White House they are displeased with Ilham Aliyev’s
statements which shock the world community to some extent.

(Passage omitted: Armenian servicemen barred from attending
Baku-hosted Nato conference, Armenian officer killed in Budapest and
recap of recent remarks by Azeri officials and of an interview given
to the Azerbaijani newspaper Ekho by the leader of the Helsinki
Association, Mikael Daniyelyan)