"The speaker`s statements should not serve as a pretext for aggravating relations"

On September 18, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress Nancy Pelosi , during her visit to Yerevan, said that the borders and sovereignty of Armenia were under attack. "Armenia is important to us, and on behalf of Congress, we strongly condemn Azerbaijan's deadly attacks on Armenia," Pelosi said. She noted that the United States, as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, has long and openly declared the impossibility of a military solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

"The purpose of our visit is to understand what Armenia expects from the United States and what support we can provide and what we can do in defense cooperation. The decision is up to Armenia, and we are ready to help if it accepts our assistance," Pelosi said.

Jacqueline Speier, who arrived with Pelosi, said the House of Representatives had passed a resolution condemning Azerbaijan's actions. “I hope it will be accepted soon. Regarding our commitments to Armenia, we will continue to support the territorial integrity of Armenia and oppose any changes to Armenia's borders.”

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said that “the statement of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, during a visit to Armenia on September 18, 2022, distorting the situation in the region, is deeply regrettable. The baseless and unfair accusations made by Nancy Pelosi against Azerbaijan are  unacceptable.”

ASTNA's questions on the subject were answered by Washington-based Azerbaijani origin journalist Alex Raufoglu.


Question: What do the statements made by Speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress Nancy Pelosi in Yerevan mean? Why did the speaker voice these statements? Can these statements be considered the official position of the United States?

Alex RaufogluAnswer: Let me answer your questions in a reverse order, if I may. No, Ms. Pelosi's statements do not express the official position of the US administration, and for this one has to pay attention to the statements coming out from the White House and the State Department. The fact that the rhetoric displayed in Yerevan differs from the official position is not a rare example in the US system. Regardless of political affiliation, the speaker, like all members of Congress, is free to demonstrate a different approach to White House policy on various issues, even if they share the same partisan interests as the person sitting in the Oval Office.

The reasons why Mrs. Pelosi does not refer to the position of the Azerbaijani side in her statements (whether it is fair or not) should first of all make Azerbaijan pause and think. It was rather surprising that Azerbaijani diplomats in Washington ended up responding to Mrs. Pelosi's speeches only after the fact, and, to put it mildly, at the level of “Twitter critics”. Pelosi's statements proved what we've been saying for years - Azerbaijan's paid lobbying efforts in the US Congress are ineffective.

As for the other part of your question, as a rule, visits by the US speaker to crisis-hit regions are significant per se in terms of attracting international public opinion to the conflict. The Western media, which throughout last week had placed Ukraine and the death of the queen on top of their news feed, understandably made the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict headlines on Saturday and Sunday, even though a ceasefire agreement between the two sides had already been reached 48 hours before this visit. So, in this sense, the speaker's visit can be considered significant in terms of drawing attention to the problem.

In order to use this opportunity properly, the Azerbaijani side, first of all, needed to work in a timely manner with the members of Congress who took part in the visit, as well as bring its position to their attention. As it was mentioned by the speaker's office, this visit was actually planned a month ago, it just happened to happen at the wrong time. Did Azerbaijani diplomats know about this visit? If no, it's bad; if yes and they did nothing, it's even worse.

Question: When voicing these statements, did Nancy Pelosi think that the US could lose Azerbaijan?

Answer: First of all, given the venue where the statements were made, it is clear that the goal was not to lose Armenia, but the general sentiment in Washington is that this should not necessarily be done at the cost of losing Azerbaijan. The United States is well aware that the outbreak of one conflict after another in the post-Soviet region over the past few weeks is not accidental. A defeated Russia in Ukraine "may plunge the region into chaos,"  the US Secretary of State said a few days ago.

Unlike Azerbaijan, against the backdrop of growing pressure from Moscow, Armenia did not repel the outstretched hand of the West. If Azerbaijan does not want to lose outside support and to be face to face with Putin's Russia, then it should reconsider its policy.

Question: Some thaw is observed  in relations between the US and Azerbaijan recently. Who benefits now through these statements to create tension in relations? Isn't the US pushing Azerbaijan towards Russia with such statements?

Answer: The speaker's statements should not be a reason to aggravate official relations. Those who do this are, at worst, looking for a pretext, and at best, they simply have no idea about the US political system.

As for Russia, this country only in the last 7 months by its actions in Ukraine

isolated itself from world stage and was forced to resort to the help of such regimes as Iran and North Korea.  The US would not wish even the enemy the “nudge” to the Kremlin.

Question: In conclusion, what steps should both parties take to get US-Azerbaijani relations back on track?

Answer: It would be wrong to say that relations have gone off track at the present time. Although, it must be admitted that sincerity between the parties is now more important than ever.

The Karabakh settlement is just one of the areas on which the US-Azerbaijani relations are focused, and, as in all other areas, this work requires diplomatic creativity.

One of the former American diplomats with whom I recently talked explained the difference in the dialogues around the conflict from previous years in the following way: “Before, when communicating with us, the parties would bring to our attention that the other guys had bad ideas, but now they make it clear that the guys are bad guys.” That’s the difference…

As Michael Corleone tells us: “Never hate your enemies, it affects your judgement.” ("The Godfather” by Mario Puzo.)




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