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New confession of US State Department over Nagorno-Karabakh - COMMENT

New confession of US State Department over Nagorno-Karabakh - COMMENT
As one of OSCE MG co-chairs, the US explicitly identified source of threat in Azerbaijan

Baku. 12 January. REPORT.AZ/ Today, system in the world has formed so that official statement from US is more convincing than the document adopted by the international organization.

Therefore, we will share some of the considerations about the information of US Department of State in new system for its citizens traveling to overseas without evaluating subjectivity, justice and partiality, philosophical category and politicized expressions such as good and evil, double standard.

The Department of State launched improvements to how they share information with the US travelers. It was also noted that the aim was to strengthen US citizens' protection outside the country.

Azerbaijan is included in the second category of countries in terms of security threats.

The Exercise increased caution in Azerbaijan is due to the risk of terrorism. US Department of State recommends not to travel to the Nagorno-Karabakh region due to armed conflict.

“Casualties continue to occur in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Intermittent gunfire and occasional use of artillery systems, including land mines and mortars, result in deaths and injuries each year. Avoid roads near the ‘line of contact’ and roads near the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”, recommendation says.

Under the new system, every country will have a Travel Advisory, providing levels of advice ranging from 1 to 4:

Level 1 - Exercise Normal Precautions

Level 2 - Exercise Increased Caution

Level 3 - Reconsider Travel

Level 4 - Do Not Travel.

Notably, the division is conditional and has a recommendatory, rather than an obligatory nature.

Neighboring Armenia and Georgia included in I, Turkey and Russia in III and Iran in IV category.

Spokesperson of MFA Hikmat Hajiyev commented on inclusion of Azerbaijan by US on the list of countries with risk of terrorist attacks: “While flow of tourists to Azerbaijan increased by 24% in recent years, the number of foreign citizens visiting our country exceeded 2.7 million people, Azerbaijan hosted 1st European Games, IV Islamic Solidarity Games, Formula 1 racing, intercultural and interreligious dialogue forums, other high-level political, economic, sport and cultural events, including meetings between Chief of Staffs of Russia and US, also meeting between head of NATO military committee and Chief of the General Staff of Russia, such statement of U.S Department of State is very surprising.

"Azerbaijan is very successfully conducting many international events."

The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry (MFA) Maria Zakharova said at a briefing, commenting on the inclusion of Azerbaijan by the US State Department in list of countries threatened with terrorism (increased caution).

It was written by people who had never been to Baku. I can honestly say as a person who repeatedly and with great pleasure comes to Azerbaijan, visits Baku, the historical center, restaurants, museums, friends. "It's just nonsense to write about it that it is not recommended for tourists to come to Baku, to Azerbaijan," said Zakharova.

In turn, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia has included Azerbaijan in the list of foreign countries, where the rest of the employees of the department, including civil servants, is considered safe.

By the way, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Curtis Scaparrotti will visit Azerbaijan in January. He is expected to meet with chief of the general staff of Russia's armed forces Valery Gerasimov in Baku. This will be the first such meeting after former US President Barack Obama banned Supreme Allied Commander of NATO having personal relationships with his Russian counterpart in 2013. However, it will not be a first meeting between NATO and Russian officials. On September 7, 2017, the head of the NATO Military Committee, Petr Pavel and the chief of the general staff of Russia's armed forces Valery Gerasimov have met in Baku.

On February 16, 2017, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US General Joseph Danford and Valery Gerasimov have also met in capital of Azerbaijan.

Actually it seems as if the US foreign policy is reflected in the system. In this regard, amid the current relations of White House with Azerbaijan’s neighbors - Turkey, Russia and Iran, we can’t rule out that U.S. Department of State’s position in the new system has more political essence. For this reason, we don’t deem necessary to disclose opinion on this issue. Ukraine which has conflict in its territories was included in second category, Moldova in the first. The armed clash continues in the east of Ukraine, Crimea was annexed by Russia, territorial integrity of Moldova was violated, Transnistria proclaimed itself independent. It is necessary to consider that USA maintains that they are interested in resolution of conflicts in the former Soviet republics and acts as an international mediator. Therefore, what is the reason to demonstrate different attitude to states whose territorial integrity has been violated. After the war in 2008, Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia republics of Georgia declared themselves their independence. Russia has recognized those separatists. Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge is still considered the stronghold of terrorists.

Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili known as Abu Omar al-Shishani was one of the influential commanders for terrorist ISIS group.

He served in the Georgian Armed Forces. In summer of 2016 he was killed in Al-Shirqat town of Saladin governorate in Iraq. He was born in 1986 in Georgia.

Moreover, on November 22 anti-terror operation was held in Isani-Samgori district of Tbilisi and terrorist was neutralized.

Georgia can also be included in the second category in terms of terms of terror, violation of territorial integrity and possibility of military operations. Otherwise it is regarded as if US accepts Russia’s control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia territories of Georgia or recognizes the self-proclaimed states in those regions.

If it is approached in that way, they don’t respect the territorial integrity of Georgia.

What about Pankisi Gorge? Or it is already under US control? Anyway this question makes one to think about.

Of course similar facts can also be told about Moldova.

It seems that U.S. Department of State resigned itself to the control of Transnistria region by Moscow. Russia does not hide that they support the separatists in Ukrainian and Moldovan territory. Moldovan president Igor Dodon is against enhancing cooperation with US, EU and NATO. Such country is prone to all kind of confrontations. I mean like in Ukraine, pro-Russians may become active as well as in Moldova. The protracted conflict in Transnistria region might escalate again. That is why not ranking Georgia and Moldova on the same level, which face similar circumstances like Azerbaijan and Ukraine questions the list of Department of State.

In general, ranking Armenia in the level 1 cannot be considered tight for a number of issues. Though it is concealed, this country is in a state of war with Azerbaijan. The crime rate in the country is not satisfactory. Last summer a group of armed people attacked police station and took people hostage. Deputy chief of Armenian police Vardan Yeghiazaryan and deputy chief of Yerevan police Valeri Osipyan were also among them.

In addition, the daily armed crimes that occur in the country are the indicator that Armenia is not stable and safe state.

By the way, the number of people relinquishing Armenian citizenship and leaving the country sharply increased in recent years. 3823 persons have applied to renounce their citizenship in 2017.

More than 15,000 persons renounced Armenian citizenship after 2012 elections till 2017 i.e., during the period when Republican Party of Armenia was in power.

In fact, participation of six Armenian citizens in various events in Baku last year, demonstrates that the situation is better than declared by Department of State.

In other words, the citizen of aggressor country can freely participate in the sport games and different events held in Azerbaijan. Moreover, 2.5 million tourists visited Azerbaijan in 2017. But less than half of it visited Armenia. Two per cent of total tourists that visited Armenia were from Georgia. Majority of them were Armenians of Georgian citizenship who have relatives in Armenia.

Finally, we deemed necessary to draw attention to another issue mentioned in the document of Department of State.

Nagorno-Karabakh was mentioned in the section related to Azerbaijan. It is also a sign that US recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

Mentioning the danger in Nagorno Krabakh region of Azerbaijan remained under Armenian occupation, testifies to the fact that, unlike in Georgia and Moldova, that region is out of control.

Therefore, as one of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs, the United States has explicitly identified the source of threat in Azerbaijan.

This is Armenia, which has been categorized as a level 1 country, which requires increased caution. In other world, this aggressor country is always considered the threat for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. Therefore, US Department of State with its given surprising position towards Azerbaijan admitted one reality on Nagorno-Karabakh.

When it comes to caution to avoid travelling, no country is insured from this trouble. Suffice to remember the terror attacks committed last year in Europe where security was ensured in the high level. It seems, the US Department of State will have to reconsider the level criteria.

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