Conflict Resolution Sighting Reported
One of the big themes of the last few months has been Azerbaijan’s growing discontent with a perceived neglect perpetrated by the top brass of American government. There is a whole swell of issues going on that has Azerbaijanis a bit miffed. First, there is the ever-present Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan expects more support from America’s government, but they often only see the help that America gives to Armenia. This was most certainly the case around April 24th, when Obama made a statement about the Armenian tragedy from 1915 (omitting the word ‘genocide’). Official Baku hasn’t enjoyed the perceived Armenian preference and the continuation of talks about Turkey-Armenia rapprochement. And the relationships certainly haven’t been helped by having an open ambassadorship hanging out, leaving American representation without access to a lot of the government apparatus here.
So what is America to do? Apparently a few things are starting to turn Azerbaijan’s way, as their whining about being ignored gets some attention. We’ve already seen that Azerbaijan now has a nominee for their ambassador from the US, Matthew Bryza. He’s the guy they want (and the guy the Armenians don’t want), so that nomination alone is already a step in the right direction.
Another development is the increasing frequency of top officials making statements about the importance of Azerbaijan. Hillary made a statement about Azerbaijan’s Republic Day, celebrating when Azerbaijan first became independent on May 28th, 1918. Following that performance, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made an appearance in Baku on Sunday, where he promised more visits by American officials. It appears Hillary is on that list, scheduled to arrive in Baku soon.