BAKU: Azerbaijani-American Council Releases Statement On Ongoing Kar


july 24 2009

Azerbaijani-American Council has released a statement on ongoing
Karabakh Peace Process.

"On July 17-18, 2009, within the framework of OSCE Minsk Group, the
presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan held another round of meetings
in Moscow aimed at a peaceful resolution of the long-standing
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On this occasion, the two main
Armenian-American organizations isssued statements expressing their
concern about the ongoing progress in the internationally-monitored
peace process between the two countries," the statement said.

"In a letter addressed on July 14, 2009 to President Obama, the
Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA),
Mr. Kenneth Khachikian, complained about the allegedly "undue and
unreasonable pressure being applied in a heavily-handed manner
upon Armenia by the [OSCE] Minsk Group Co-Chair countries to force
unilateral and dangerous concessions". Interpreting the 2008 campaign
pledge by President Obama, ANCA Chairman calls for the inclusion of the
so-called "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic" in the process of negotiations."

"Furthermore, on July 22, 2009, the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA)
issued a statement also calling for the inclusion of the so-called
"Nagorno-Karabakh Republic" in the negotiations, again reciting the
same campaign comments by President Obama, while indicating that
"the Assembly strongly supports the fundamental rights of the people
of Nagorno Karabakh".

"Back in January, 2008, speaking on the importance of U.S.-Armenia
relations, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged to work
"for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict
that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s founding
commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination",
As Azerbaijani-Americans, we can’t agree more with these words of
President Obama that the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should
be acceptable to both the "principal" parties, Armenia and Azerbaijan,
as well as the "interested" parties, the Armenian and the Azerbaijani
communities of Nagorno-Karabakh. In fact, these definitions of
conflicting parties as well as the conditions for their engagement in
the peace process were already outlined in the "Baker Rules" proposed
in 1992 by the mission of the Commission for Security and Cooperation
in Europe (CSCE, OSCE Minsk group predecessor), led by then U.S.

Secretary of State, James Baker III, and were accepted by all parties."

"It is concerning, however, that while both Armenian-American
organizations claim to support "the fundamental rights of the people
of Nagorno-Karabakh", they deliberately omit the ethnic Azerbaijani
community, which prior to the conflict in 1988 comprised the third
of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh and 99% of the population of
7 other surrounding regions of Azerbaijan, currently occupied by
Armenia as a "buffer zone". From 1991 till 1994, up to 800,000 ethnic
Azerbaijanis were subjected to a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign by
Armenian forces and a complete exodus from all of the above mentioned
regions. Hence claiming the rights of only one ethnic group of a
disputed region, third of the population of which is forced into exile
for over 16 years, is actually contrary to the very core American
founding values, quoted by ANCA and AAA in President Obama’s campaign
pledge. Self-determination is not an internationally accepted term
for justifying an ethnic cleansing and a denial of existence. In this
light, "the just cause of the Armenian people of Nagorno Karabakh",
claimed to be pursued by the Armenian Assembly of America, cannot come
at the expense of infringing upon the human rights and the livelihood
of another ethnicity – Azerbaijanis."

"For the same reason, the calls by ANCA and AAA for the
participation of the "duly elected representatives" of the so-called
"Nagorno-Karabakh Republic" in the negotiation process, on equal
terms with the principal sides, are counter productive. Reputable
international institutions, such as the United Nations, the Council of
Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE, not to mention the
ethnic Azerbaijani constituents of Nagorno-Karabakh, unequivocally
called the "elections" orchestrated in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh
as well as "the elected officials" thereof as illegitimate, for a
simple reason – no elections can be recognized legitimate when the
third of constituents is stripped of their right to vote and live in
exile solely due to their ethnicity. Thus, no government can engage
in a dialog with an illegitimate "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic", and the
only party with whom the leaders of Karabakh’s Armenian community
can and should speak on an equal basis are the leaders of region’s
exiled Azerbaijani community."

Azerbaijani-American Council continues to monitor the progress in
the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations over Nagorno-Karabakh
and hopes for a final and lasting peace to be achieved in the nearest