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James Warlick

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U.S. Envoy Visits Karabakh

Lusine Musayelian

James Warlick, the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, met with Nagorno-Karabakh’s leaders in Stepanakert on Friday, ending a regional tour which Washington hopes will help to revive Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.

Warlick also joined OSCE field representatives in monitoring the ceasefire regime on the volatile “line of contact” east of the disputed territory. No shooting incidents were reported during the routine procedure.

“I appreciate very much the opportunity to see beautiful Nagorno-Karabakh,” Warlick told reporters after talks with Bako Sahakian, the president of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Few details of those talks were made public. Sahakian’s office said in a statement that the two men agreed on the need for a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict. Sahakian was reported to complain about Azerbaijan’s “unconstructive position” in the negotiating process and say that it poses a “growing threat to peace and stability in the region.”

Warlick, who was appointed as U.S. co-chair last month, stressed that he has toured Azerbaijan, Armenia and Karabakh on an “orientation visit.” “I’m here to listen and learn,” he said. “With everyone I meet on this visit I want to look ahead and find a realistic path towards a durable settlement.”

Warlick arrived in Baku and Yerevan with U.S. President Barack Obama’s letters to his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts implicitly urging them to hold face-to-face talks. “With the outlines of the compromise already well established, now is the time for a renewed effort to bring peace to the region,” Obama wrote.

James Warlick: Time Has Come For The Settlement 14:26 27/09/2013 " POLITICS

US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick has given an interview in which he spoke about his first visit to the region and about some aspects of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. Mr. Warlick said to the Voice of America that his main task was to get familiarized with the situation on the ground and to listen to the parties. The main message, which he received from not only the political leadership but also others, was that the time has come for the settlement. He said that all the sides are interested in peace as no one wants the resumption of the war.

To the journalist's question concerning president Aliyev's latest speech in which he again used military rhetoric, called the Armenians "fascists" and spoke about Azerbaijan's military power, Warlick said: "We should all be concerned about the rhetoric that could lead to greater conflict and not bring about peace". He also said that the sides must prepare their population for peace and not war and stressed the need to "move beyond the ideological rhetoric" and "find a realistic path forward". The called for all the parties to educate their population (and especially the youth) on that the settlement can lead to greater prosperity in the future.

Mr. Warlick also said he was pleased to visit Nagorno-Karabakh as part of OSCE mission. What he observed however was an active line of contact and tension on the border. He thus stressed the importance of Minsk Group efforts in preventing active hostilities from breaking out.

Answering the question on whether Armenia's membership in the Customs Union will in any way affect the US approach towards this conflict, Mr Warlick said, "We will continue to work with Armenia and Azerbaijan very closely to bring about a durable settlement... I know Armenia continues to have a real perspective on Europe; they've made that clear to us that they are interested in peace and prosperity as a part of Europe in the future."

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U.S. Mediator Accused Of Pro-Armenian Bias

01.05.2014 Azerbaijan on Thursday accused the chief U.S. negotiator in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process of favoring the Armenian side and indicated its intention to demand his replacement by the United States.

Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov claimed that James Warlick, the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, has been “deliberately taking steps aimed at satisfying the interests of the Armenian side and promoting separatism.”

“Mr. Warlick allows himself to arbitrarily interpret the norms and principles of international law that are at the heart of a settlement and, incidentally, define the mandate and clear bounds of the mediators’ activities,” Azimov told the pro-government APA news agency.

“Despite Mr. Warlick’s statements on the need for the [Minsk Group] co-chairs to maintain neutrality, the American co-chair’s activities show the opposite,” he said. “The prearranged character of Mr. Warlick’s pronouncements, essentially aimed at justifying the unconstructive position which Armenia continues to adopt in the negotiations, is evident.”

Azimov specifically referred to Warlick’s regular Twitter posts regarding the Karabakh conflict. In particular, he pointed to the American diplomat’s recent implicit suggestion that the conflict has pitted Azerbaijan against Karabakh, rather than Armenia. He described as “provocative” another tweet in which Warlick cited concerns that “violence could escalate between Armenia and Azerbaijan” because of the crisis in Ukraine.

These and other statements, continued Azimov, give Baku reason to “express no confidence” in the U.S. mediator and demand his recall. “Warlick is giving the Azerbaijani side no other choice,” he said.

There was no official reaction to the extraordinary allegations from Washington as of Thursday evening.

Incidentally, Warlick was among U.S. officials, lawmakers and other dignitaries who were invited to a two-day U.S.-Azerbaijani forum that was organized by a pro-Azerbaijani group in Washington earlier this week. “Azerbaijan has strong support in Washington for a strategic partnership. Thank you for including me in tonight's gala dinner,” the U.S. co-chair tweeted late on Wednesday.

“Azerbaijanis approached me at tonight's gala dinner about an NK (Karabakh) settlement. The US stands ready to help the sides find a lasting peace,” he said in a separate post.

Azimov complained to APA that Warlick maintains more contacts with the Armenian-American community than the much smaller Azerbaijani Diaspora in the United States.

In his public statements, Warlick has also consistently advocated direct contacts between Armenian and Azerbaijani civil society members, saying that they are important for a Karabakh settlement. The Azerbaijani government is now cracking down on three prominent Azerbaijani participants of the “people-to-people diplomacy” on Karabakh sponsored by Western governments and private institutions.

One of them, journalist and political analyst Rauf Mirkadyrov, was arrested on April 20 on charges of high treason reportedly stemming from his repeated trips to Armenia. The U.S. State Department expressed serious concern over the arrest

Human rights activist Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif were briefly detained and questioned by Azerbaijani security services in connection with the same espionage case on April 28. Tom Malinowski, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service afterwards that Yunus's case is "very troubling" and that the Washington will convey that message to the authorities in Baku.