Rice Doubts Any Solution Soon In Nagorno-Karabakh

By Susan Cornwell

March 12 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
expressed doubt on Wednesday that the conflict between Armenia and
Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh can be solved soon, saying there
are problems on both sides.

Rice spoke at a Capitol Hill hearing after two lawmakers expressed
concern about the possibility of another war in the Caucasus region
and asked why the Bush administration was seeking more military aid
for Azerbaijan than Armenia.

Nagorno-Karabakh was seized by pro-Armenian forces from Azerbaijan
in a war in the 1990s in which 35,000 people died.

Sixteen soldiers from both sides died in clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh
this month, one of the worst breaches of the 1994 cease-fire there.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Bryza visited the region
afterwards and expressed concerns to both Armenian and Azeri officials
that the clashes not recur.

"In the immediate future I don’t know that Nagorno-Karabakh can get
solved," Rice said at the House appropriations subcommittee hearing
on the State Department’s budget.

"We have been close several times," Rice said. "And so we’ll continue
to try to work that. But I just have to emphasize, we have problems
on both sides right now, and we’re trying to make sure that both
sides act responsibly."

Rice said a state of emergency in Armenia, imposed recently after
rioting against the results of a presidential election, had made it
necessary to suspend some U.S. programs there.

But Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, complained that the
Bush administration had proposed several times as much U.S. aid in
one category of military assistance to Azerbaijan as Armenia in the
coming year, which he said broke a tradition of parity in assistance
for the two countries.

"The Azeri government, in particular, President Aliyev, have been
ratcheting up anti-Armenian rhetoric over the past few months
in Nagorno-Karabakh," said Schiff, who has a large number of
Armenian-Americans in his district.

Michigan Republican Joe Knollenberg said he would favor discontinuing
military aid to Azerbaijan. "I strongly believe that, instead of using
this funding to help in the war in terror, they’re gearing up for,
as they say, a regional war."

"We are very concerned about the heating-up rhetoric," Rice told the
lawmakers. "But I think the way to do it, the way to deal with this,
is to try to maintain open channels to both sides and to try to bring
them to a solution."

For fiscal 2009, which starts in October, the State Department
has requested $300,000 for Armenia and $900,000 for Azerbaijan in
International Military Education and Training funds, which offer U.S.

military education and training that can facilitate contributions to
peacekeeping operations.

The Bush administration has also requested $3 million for Armenia
and the same for Azerbaijan in Foreign Military Financing, U.S. funds
that support foreign militaries, including training and equipment.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS