BAKU, RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service, February 4, 2014-- Ambassador James Warlick The U.S. Co-Chair to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group urged Azerbaijan and Armenia to use "the window of opportunity" and move faster toward the peaceful settlement. Speaking today to RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, Radio Azadliq and Azerbaijani APA news agency in Baku, American diplomat warned both sides that "the continuation of status- quo could lead to more violence and instability."
Excerpts from the exclusive interview with Ambassador James Warlick:
THE UNITED STATES IS COMMITTED TO THE PEACE IN THE REGION
"The United States is committed to the peace in the region. We know what benefits of peace would be. The United States is bringing a renewed energy into this. We are bringing a new commitment to finding a way forward. Secretary Kerry even mentioned this issue when he was in Munich."
"The worst outcome will be continuation of status- quo that could well lead and believe will lead to more violence and instability. And surely people of the region, surely people of Azerbaijan and Armenia can't want that."
"There is no better time for peace then present. There is a window of opportunity for peace. And I think people of Armenia and Azerbaijan should want that and should want their leaders to take advantage of that. If not now then when... it is not going to be easier in 2 or 5 or 10 years."
Those people who believe whether they are in Armenia or Azerbaijan that somehow this conflict will resolve itself are mistaken."
NO DATE FOR NEW ALIYEV-SARKISIAN MEETING YET
"We don't have date for meeting between Aliyev and Sarkisian yet."
" The dust has settled. The elections have passed. Both presidents have renewed their mandates from people. We had one good meeting with Presidents. Now let see, can we build on that? Can we address key issues in a way that both sides can find it not only acceptable, but desirable for everlasting peace."
"We want to continue to work with all of the parties to find a way forward to a lasting and durable settlement. There are number of outstanding issues, ones that need to be discussed, and worked through and they are not easy issues. So, we want to engage with both presidents [of Armenia and Azerbaijan], we want all parties to be involved in finding a way to bring about peace in Nagorno-Karabakh."
"We were actually encouraged after November 19, [2013 meeting between the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian in Vienna] that there was a period when the cease-fire was respected by both sides, the number of incidents fell dramatically, and we took that as an encouraging sign."
CEASE-FIRE IS FRAGILE
"Now we know that the cease-fire is very fragile. Events of the past weeks demonstrate that the cease-fire is fragile. Renewed tensions are not helpful as we try to move forward. We need to ensure that there is trust on all sides, that the atmosphere is conducive to make progress and we hope that the cease-fire can be respected."
"I think one of the difficulties is [that] after 20 years of neither peace, nor war, there is distrust among the parties and that's why the cease-fire and respect for the cease-fire is important to try to build up that trust in each other."
"One of the things that is lacking in this discussion is a real commitment, I think, a popular commitment, that 'enough is enough, the time has come to find peace'."
"I believe that if this conflict can be resolved in a durable way, this will be a new era of prosperity for the region. It is something that both Armenia and Azerbaijan should welcome."
ON ARMENIAN REFUGEES FROM SYRIA BEING SETTLED IN AND AROUND OF NAGRNO-KARABAKH
"We are aware of the issue. Obviously we don't have all the facts of resettlement into the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabagh. We raised the issue with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, I believe they are in the process of collecting information and getting facts so we can know the way forward. "