Assembly reiterates concerns over Azerbaijan's increased war-rhetoric

Assembly reiterates concerns over Azerbaijan's increased war-rhetoric

PanARMENIAN.Net - Upon the appointment of Ambassador James Warlick to serve as the next U.S. Co-Chair of the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group for the Nagorno Karabakh peace process, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) reiterates its concerns with respect to Azerbaijan's increased war-rhetoric, ongoing militarization and continued ceasefire violations.

"The Armenian Assembly hopes Ambassador Warlick and his OSCE Co-Chair counterparts will reintegrate the democratically elected government of Nagorno Karabakh into the peace negotiations. Only with their participation and the support of the citizens of Karabakh, who valiantly defended their homeland, can a lasting peace be achieved," said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his confidence in Ambassador Warlick, calling him a "first-rate diplomat," when he announced the appointment. Secretary Kerry also reiterated that the "United States remains firmly committed to helping the sides reach a lasting and peaceful settlement to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict."

In 1991, Azerbaijan launched a war against the Armenian people of Nagorno Karabakh. A Russian brokered cease-fire agreement was signed in 1994 ending the hostilities; however, no peace agreement was ever realized. For almost 20 years, the OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by the United States, Russia and France, has sought a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In recent years, cease-fire violations along the line of contact have increased exponentially. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has begun stockpiling massive offensive military armaments to the tune of over $6 billion dollars between Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012. Last month, it was reported that Azerbaijan begun receiving another $1 billion dollar arms package from Russia, whereas the United States Congress is in the process of providing an additional $3.3 million dollars to Azerbaijan's military. The Armenian Assembly raised these concerns, among others, in testimony submitted last month to the Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) briefing entitled "Troubled Partner: Growing Authoritarianism in Azerbaijan."

Warlick recently served as Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and lead negotiator for the Bilateral Security Agreement with Afghanistan. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria from 2009-2012, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs from 2006 to 2009, and Director of the Office of European Security and Political Affairs from 2005 to 2006.

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