Richard Morningstar: We call on the parties not to take any steps that threaten peace

On Monday, the new U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Richard Morningstar,  held  the first press conference after arriving in Baku two weeks ago in his residence.  The heads and employees  of the most leading country’s media have been invited. 

Ambassador personally acquainted with everyone, shaking hands with each of those present.

The  diplomat spoke about his vision and priorities for the bilateral relations, and then answered questions from journalists.

Among his priorities in his activity, he mentioned the issues of security, energy, democracy and human rights. Noting that for a long time he worked on energy issues, the ambassador noted that this does not mean that other issues will be given less attention.

"Settlement of the Karabakh conflict, democracy and freedom of the press are in the focus of our attention,"  he said.

As for the situation  around the extradition and  pardon of  Ramil Safarov, the ambassador said he shared the concerns of the State Department on this issue  and calls  of Washington  to the parties to refrain from actions that might disrupt stability. "We are in regular contact with the parties involved and do our best to avoid negative development of the events," he said.

He repeated the State Department's negative assessment, stating that the pardon of  Safarov and the form with which it was done, do not contribute to the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

When asked how he views the threat of a terrorist organization ASALA against Azerbaijani diplomats, Morningstar said that everything possible is done to prevent the implementation of such threats. Responding to the question on democracy and freedom of speech, the ambassador said that the USA will continue  to support independent media,  and protection of rights in Azerbaijan. "These issues remain a priority, along with security and energy," he said.

 The diplomat also noted that despite the fact that for a long time he was engaged in the energy sphere,  he is quite aware  of state  affairs in the field of democracy and press freedom.

Commenting on the statement of Congressman Dan Rohrabacher on the need to support unification of South and North Azerbaijan, Morningstar noted that it was personal opinion. "Everyone, including Rohrabacher, can express  opinion. As for Washington, we respect the  state borders of Iran," he said.

Answering the questions about the prospects of building the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, Morningstar said that the subject is in focus, and the United States support this project. Its implementation depends on the will and desire of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.

He also welcomed the interest of the EU in support of this project.

Being asked whether he would establish a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition, like the previous Ambassador Bryza , Morningstar gave a positive response. "We definitely will support such a process, and will do everything possible from our side,"  he said. -02В-


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