Azerbaijan Attacks on Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh Raised During State Department Daily Press Briefing

By Taniel Koushakjian

AAANews Blog 

July 8, 2014

On Wednesday, July 2nd, a member of Armenia’s press service in Washington, D.C. raised the issue of Azerbaijan military attacks on Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh during the U.S. State Department’s daily press briefing.

“There is a noticeable escalation of anti-Armenian rhetoric in Azerbaijan recently,” stated Haykaram Nahapetyan, Armenian Public Television’s Washington correspondent. Azerbaijan violated the fragile ceasefire agreement “not only in line of contact with Karabakh, but also across the state border with Armenia, severely shelling civilian rural settlements in northeastern part of Armenia,” Nahapetyan said.

Referring to the U.S. role as a co-chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, Nahapetyan asked State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki if she was following the situation and if the U.S. had “put any efforts to restrain Azerbaijan from belligerent statements and action?”

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Psaki reiterated that the U.S. is “committed to helping both sides reach a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  It’s our hope that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will accept French President Hollande’s invitation to hold a summit in Paris as soon as possible, and that they will agree to structured negotiations that will lead to a peace agreement.” She also called on the President’s of Armenia and Azerbaijan to “redouble their efforts at the negotiation table.”

Psaki recognized the vitriolic statements emanating from Baku. “Obviously, inflammatory rhetoric and statements run counter to the principle of reducing tensions,” she said, acknowledging that such provocation “damages the peace process.”

Days after the Azerbaijan attacks were raised in Washington the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR) Defense Ministry reported that approximately 600 ceasefire violations had occurred between June 25-July 5. One of the incidents resulted in the death of NKR soldier Armen Avetisyan, 19, who was killed along the NKR-Azerbaijan line of contact. The Azerbaijan Defense Ministry denied the reports and accused the Armenian side of violating the ceasefire.

At least 17 soldiers on both sides have died from cross border violations to date this year.

A transcript of the question and answer exchange between Nahapetyan and Psaki is available below. The full transcript is available here.

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U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

Wednesday July 2, 2014

QUESTION:  Yeah, thank you.  There is a noticeable escalation of anti-Armenian rhetoric in Azerbaijan recently.  Ilham Aliyev personally called Armenia a historic Azerbaijan land this time, which analysts qualified as territorial claim.  The main question is about the violation of ceasefire recent weeks.  Azerbaijan violated ceasefire not only in line of contact with Karabakh, but also across the state border with Armenia, severely shelling civilian rural settlements in northeastern part of Armenia.  Some local authorities already have reported that full-scale war has already broken out.

So as a co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group, do you follow the situation and any do you put any efforts to restrain Azerbaijan from belligerent statements and action?  Thank you.

MS. PSAKI:  Well, we are committed – as a co-chair, we’re committed to helping both sides reach a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  It’s our hope that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will accept French President Hollande’s invitation to hold a summit in Paris as soon as possible, and that they will agree to structured negotiations that will lead to a peace agreement.  And we call on both sides to redouble their efforts at the negotiation table and to focus on the benefits that peace will bring to people across the region.  Obviously, inflammatory rhetoric and statements run counter to the principle of reducing tensions, and so we certainly think that that damages the peace process, and that’s why we’re encouraging them to redouble their efforts.

QUESTION:  Jen, have you seen the reports that (inaudible) civilian settlements this time has been bombarded by Azerbaijan in Armenia?

MS. PSAKI:  I don’t have any confirmation of those specific reports, but clearly, a peaceful settlement is in the interests of both countries.

About Armenian Assembly of America

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
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