The Democratic candidate for U.S. president Joe Biden, in a written statement, called on the Trump administration to stop coddling Ankara and tell Turkey, along with Iran, to stay out of Nagorno – Karabakh conflict.
“Turkey’s provision of arms to Azerbaijan and bellicose rhetoric encouraging a military solution are irresponsible,” Biden’s first statement on the conflict said.
Biden issued a statement last week on Eastern Mediterranean tensions and said U.S. President Donald Trump must prevent Turkey from “further provocative actions” against Greece.
The latest flare up around the mountainous territory of the South Caucasus began late September. The region around the Nagorno-Karabakh is officially part of Azerbaijan and negotiations over how to normalise region have been going on for over three decades. The Minks Group, co-chaired by Russia, France and the United States, are the primary actors to help both Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss and solve the frozen conflict.
Biden said a diplomatic resolution will not be easy to achieve, but reminded that the Trump Administration has an obligation to try.
“It should do so urgently before more lives are lost and the conflict expands,” he said.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have engaged in sporadic conflicts since a ceasefire was brokered by Russia in 1994, ending the Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988-1994). Russia is widely seen to be the main supporter of Armenia in the conflict, while Turkey supports Azerbaijan.
Biden stated that that the collapse of the Oct. 10 ceasefire and the resumption of fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh is concerning.
“Drones, mortars and long-range artillery are claiming hundreds of lives on both sides of the line of contact and displacing thousands of civilians,” the former U.S. vice president said.
Highlighting the Trump Administration’s “largely passive, and disengaged,” mode when it comes to the flare up, Biden reminded “neither President Trump nor Secretary of State Pompeo has placed a single phone call to the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, even as the region goes up in flames.”
“Rather than delegating the diplomacy to Moscow, the administration must get more involved, at the highest levels, by working with our European partners to de-escalate the fighting and return the two sides to negotiations,” he added.
Biden said “It must make clear to Armenia that regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh cannot be occupied indefinitely and that credible negotiations on a lasting resolution of the conflict must commence immediately once a ceasefire is concluded.”
United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions adopted in 1993 identify the breakaway region as “occupied Azerbaijani territory.”