Monday, June 04, 2012

Why Does Clinton Visit Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia ?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Yerevan on June 4, 2012, at the start of what will be her second tour of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in less than two years.
Clinton will discuss “regional security, democracy, economic development and counterterrorism” in Yerevan, Baku and Tbilisi, the U.S. State Department said on May 25, 2012. The State Department also said Clinton would meet with leaders from civil society groups in all three of the countries.
Clinton already toured the region in July 2010. U.S.-backed efforts to normalize Armenia’s relations with Turkey were high on the agenda of her talks in Yerevan. She publicly praised Armenia’s President Sarkisian’s position on the issue as “very statesmanlike and very impressive” and said the onus is on Ankara to revive the normalization process.
Armenian authorities must demand U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exert pressure on Turkey in normalization of ties with Armenia, Giro Manoyan, a political affairs director at the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutyun (ARF-D Bureau), said.
“The U.S. must pressure Turkey into establishing relations with Armenia with no preconditions,” he said.
He further stressed the need to use Clinton’s visit as a good reason to declare the international community about withdrawing Armenia’s signature from Armenian-Turkish protocols. Manoyan also stated that during her visit the Armenian authorities have to urge Hillary Clinton to explain whether the US truly finds the self-determination principle is a key to settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
            “The US-Armenia relations are important to us, like the other issues of concern - the Armenia-Turkey relations and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict - which are also interesting to the United States,” he said.
Meanwhile, The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has suggested the following ten steps that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should undertake during her upcoming visit to the Caucasus region to advance U.S. interests, promote American values, and strengthen the Obama Administration’s diplomatic standing in a pivotal region of strategic importance.
10 Steps Toward a Successful Visit by Secretary Clinton to the Caucasus:
1) A public announcement by Secretary Clinton that President Obama, after more than three years in office, will finally honor his promises to recognize the Armenian Genocide and to support the proper recognition of this crime by the U.S. Congress.
2) An official visit to the Armenian Genocide memorial, during which she honors her own pledges to recognize the Armenian Genocide, renounces her assertion that the Armenian Genocide is a matter for “historical debate,” and asserts that the Administration will no longer use the failed Turkey-Armenia Protocols as an excuse for complicity in Ankara’s genocide denial.
3) A clear statement distancing the U.S. from a recent NATO declaration prioritizing the principle of territorial integrity over self-determination in settling the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, and a commitment to strike, from a recently released State Department report, the false assertion that Nagorno-Karabakh is a part of Azerbaijan, a Baku-backed claim that is directly at odds with President Obama’s pledge to work towards a durable settlement “based upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination.”
4) A public retreat from the Administration’s proposed 19% cut in economic and democracy-building aid to Armenia, and a pledge to both work with Congressional appropriators to honor the President’s promise to “maintain” aid levels to Armenia, and also to allocate all unexpended aid that Congress has intended for Nagorno-Karabakh.
5) A joint declaration with the Armenian government, in the spirit of President Obama’s promise to foster stronger U.S.-Armenia economic relations, announcing talks to implement bilateral trade and investment initiatives, including a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, a Double Tax Treaty, and a Free Trade Agreement.
6) A strong stand, during her visit to Azerbaijan, against the Aliyev regime’s escalating pattern of threats and renewed aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh, and a public announcement that the White House will not waive Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act as long as Baku fails to commit to a peaceful resolution of its conflict with Nagorno-Karabakh.
7) A withdrawal of the Administration’s support, in light of Baku’s ongoing threats and acts of aggression, for the sale or transfer of any and all arms or dual-use items to Azerbaijan, including the controversial pending sale of advanced helicopter-based sensing equipment.
8) A visit to investigate the medieval Armenian cemetery in Djulfa, Nakhichevan, the site of thousands of intricate Armenian stone crosses (khatchkars) systematically destroyed by the Azerbaijani military in December of 2005, as documented on video-tape.
9) A public expression of U.S. support, during her trip to Georgia, for targeted U.S. economic, development, and infrastructure assistance programs and public-private partnerships for the Armenian-populated Javakhk region of Georgia.
10) A trip to Stepanakert to demonstrate support for the OSCE Minsk Group peace process, to press for the reinstatement of the Republic of Nagorno-Krabakh as a full participant in all negotiations, and to underscore America’s longstanding and proud tradition of supporting the right of all peoples to democratic self-determination.

Deputy Director of the Russian Institute of Political and Military Analysis Alexander Khramchikhin believes that the visit is related to the Iranian problem as well as to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. “Washington, apparently, is seeking to agree on a maximum number of routes of withdrawal for the troops not to be particularly dependent on Russia and Pakistan,” he said. The expert also stressed that Iran’s talks with representatives of the “six” international mediators (the UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany) in Baghdad, Iraq, in fact, failed, making the beginning of military action against Iran even more likely.
Earlier, United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that the U.S. military is ready to deliver strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Panetta said that the Pentagon has developed plans for different cases, including the scenario of war with Iran.
There is also an opinion that Clinton’s visit may give a new impetus to the Turkish-Armenian relations. It is noteworthy that on May 27, Turkish President Abdullah Gul unexpectedly said that the process of Turkish-Armenian normalization “is not dead.” “There are civil and official organizations that have set goals in this sphere. The status quo does not work for either Turkey, Armenia or for Azerbaijan,” he stressed. This statement also indicates that Armenian-Turkish negotiations might get boosted.
Experts do not expect new proposals on the part of the United States on the Karabakh issue. Moreover, the United States Embassy in Armenia has disavowed a rigid wording on Karabakh in the U.S. State Department Report on Human Rights in 2011. The report, in fact, mentioned that Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan, which has angered the Armenian expert community. 
The report in no way prejudges the outcome of the negotiation process on Nagorno-Karabakh within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, said the U.S. Embassy. 
It said that the United States continues to defend the equality of principles of the exclusion of the use of force or threat of force, territorial integrity and national self-determination of the Helsinki Final Act as the basic elements of any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 
Expert of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies Edgar Vardanyan believes that the topic of discussion will also be post-election developments in Armenia. “Secretary of State Clinton will urge the Armenian authorities to remove the shortcomings on the eve of the presidential election, making it clear to them that this is what the U.S. friendly attitude towards Armenia will depend on,” he said.


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