Aug 29 2005
Rice Urges Armenia, Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh Compromise
Secretary of State phones Presidents Kocharian and Aliyev
The United States attaches great importance to the upcoming meeting
of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan and hopes they will make
the compromises necessary in order to reach a settlement of the
That was the message when Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice phoned
Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Azerbaijani President Ilham
Aliyev August 25, according to the U.S. State Department.
The leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States are scheduled
to meet beginning August 26 in Russia's Volga River city of Kazan.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a bloody war from 1990 to 1994, after
the predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh
attempted to break away from Soviet Azerbaijan. An estimated 35,000
people died and tens of thousands of civilians were driven from their
homes before the two countries agreed to a cease-fire in 1994.
In terms of official policy, the United States does not recognize
Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent country and supports the
territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, maintaining that the future
status of Nagorno-Karabakh is a matter of negotiation between the
The United States also remains committed to finding a peaceful
settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through the Minsk Group
process, which is co-chaired by Russia, France and the United States.
In its statement on Rice's discussions with the two leaders, the
State Department said, `Both leaders were upbeat about the prospects
for making progress.'
`The Secretary stressed to President Aliyev the importance of free
and fair parliamentary elections this November in Azerbaijan, and
noted his important role in this,' the statement added.
The United States has repeatedly urged Azerbaijan to meet
international standards when it holds its November parliamentary
elections and to implement the recommendations made by an
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observer
mission after the 2003 elections.
As recently as July 2, U.S. representative Christopher Smith,
co-chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and a Republican from New
Jersey, issued a statement saying he was `very disappointed' that
Azerbaijan's parliament had passed an election law that does not
incorporate many key changes recommended by international observers,
especially in the composition of election commissions. (See statement
released by Helsinki Commission.)
The United States has also called on Azerbaijan `to implement fully
the May 11 Presidential Decree calling for the conduct of free and
In her phone call to Armenian President Kocharian, Rice said she
`hoped Armenia would make progress toward enacting a package of
constitutional reforms now before the parliament,' the State
The government of Armenia submitted revised constitutional reform
amendments to the Council of Europe's Venice Commission in July, and
the United States at that time welcomed the Venice Commission's
agreement to those amendments.
The proposed reforms would improve separation of powers between
branches of government and increase the independence and freedom of
The U.S. State Department has a fact sheet available summarizing the
U.S. position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Source: U.S. Department of State