US names new special envoy for Nagorno-Karabakh, Caucasus

US names new special envoy for Nagorno-Karabakh, Caucasus


The United States on Friday named a new special envoy for the
Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan and other
conflicts in the Caucasus region, the State Department said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell appointed veteran diplomat Steven
Mann, who delivered the note establishing US relations with Armenia in
1992, to be “special negotiator for Nagorno-Karabakh and Eurasian
Conflicts,” it said.

Mann, who is currently US pointman in dealing with Caspian Sea energy
issues, including construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline,
replaces Rudolf Perina as the special envoy for Nagorno-Karabakh, the
department said.

Mann will retain his responsibilities for the pipeline in his new
position, it said.

Mainly because of energy issues, Washington has taken a keen interest
in Nagorno-Karabakh, a mainly ethnic Armenian enclave claimed by
Azerbaijan but which is currently ruled by a self-styled independent
government recognized only by Armenia.

Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia went to war in the early 1990s when
Nagorno-Karabakh, mainly populated by Armenians, seceded from
Azerbaijan at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse, and the two
Soviet Caucasian republics became independent.

More than 30,000 people were killed before a ceasefire was agreed in
1994 but Azerbaijan and Armenia remain in an undeclared state of war
over the enclave.

The United States, along with France and Russia, is a co-chair of the
Minsk Group, a 13-nation within the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that has been seeking to mediate between
Armenia and Azerbaijan.

One of US President George W. Bush’s first diplomatic initiatives
after taking office was to bring the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan
to the United States for Minsk Group negotiations in Key West, Florida
and Washington in April 2001.