BAKU: US trade with Upper Garabagh creates storm

US trade with Upper Garabagh creates storm

Azer News, Azerbaijan
May 27 2004

The reports on the signing of a deal between two US companies with
“Garabagh Telecom”, an entity operating in the Azerbaijani lands
occupied by Armenian and Russian military units, have caused serious
concerns in some news media and the Milli Majlis (parliament).

Some opposition and independent newspapers as well as individuals
even blame Reno Harnish, the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, for
justifying his country’s attempts to establish economic relations
with the separatist leadership of Upper Garabagh. The reason is due
to the opinions expressed by Harnish during his talk with journalists
following the 8th meeting of the US-Azerbaijani working group on
economic cooperation held in Baku last week.

The fact that the US Ambassador called Upper Garabagh ‘a country’ in
passing, as well as his saying that the US doesn’t impose commercial
restrictions against any country was called sensational by most
newspapers. In particular, the opposition-minded “Yeni Musavat”
newspaper, a publication of the Musavat Party, issued a critical
article about Harnish, urging him to give an explanation on the
matter. The newspaper even compared him with the former US Ambassador
Stanley Escudero, who Yeni Musavat says didn’t have such a good image
in Azerbaijan. The public seems to have found a reason for expressing
displeasure with the US government with regard to the Garabagh
conflict. And what is the reason for the public dissatisfaction and
negative attitude towards the US government? Why do people who
considered the United States the most reliable and powerful ally of
Azerbaijan in the 1990s, today doubt it? The main reason is that the
United States shows double standards towards Armenia and Azerbaijan,
it has failed to observe ‘a principle of justice’ in the settlement
of the Garabagh conflict and that it doesn’t differentiate between an
aggressor and a sufferer. People think that the United States is
taking advantage of the slogans of human rights, democracy,
territorial inviolability of states as well as combating terrorism
and the drug business, only for its political goals. The United
States indirectly supports Armenian separatists, who are involved in
drug business and terror attacks in the occupied territory of
Garabagh, but has imposed sanctions on Azerbaijan for about ten
years. Don’t the US intelligence agencies know that Armenian and
Arabian terrorists have been cooperating since the beginning of the
20th century? Azerbaijani MPs didn’t remain indifferent to the issue

MPs’ protest

At a Tuesday session of the Milli Majlis (parliament), MPs protested
strongly against some US companies’ attempts to make investments in
the occupied lands of Azerbaijan, particularly in Upper Garabagh.
According to MPs, the business relations between the companies of the
US, which is a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, and separatist
forces in Upper Garabagh contradict the national interests of
Azerbaijan. MPs proposed that the issue be discussed at the
parliament and the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan be informed about it.
They also decided to address the US government in connection with the
issue. Speaker Murtuz Alasgarov said that the US companies’ activity
doesn’t express the standpoint of the US government. He noted that
however, the issue should be considered seriously. Alasgarov
underlined that he would appeal to the Foreign Ministry in order to
clear up the matter and ask it to bring the issue to the notice of
the US Ambassador.

Ambassador denies trade ties

US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Reno Harnish, told a news conference
after a meeting held at Baku State University (BSU) on Wednesday that
the US has not made any investments in ‘Upper Garabagh’ and that
Washington does not support trade relations with the self-proclaimed
republic. He pointed out that negotiations are the only fair
alternative in settling the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Upper
Garabagh. The latest statement of the US Ambassador eased the heated
debates but did not put an end to them. While pursuing its policy in
the region, the United States should take into account the national
interests of its partners as well. For this, it should be a fair
judge and put an end to its double standards.