February 16, The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland talked about new avenues for progress and development during a short press conference at the end of her visit to Baku.
"Today we did talk about the concerns that United States has had in the last year or so about the trajectory here on the human rights side, on the free media side and we agreed that we would continue that conversation and strengthen it by creating a U.S.-Azerbaijan dialogue on civil society and democracy. This would be a U.S.-Azerbaijan bilateral structure that would work in parallel with the work that Azerbaijan is currently doing with the Council of Europe and Secretary General Jagland. And I would work with secretary general Jagland on ensuring that these efforts are mutually reinforcing."
Nuland added, "what we need to do now is to have a real structured dialogue and that is why I am pleased that the president agreed today to establish this dialogue on civil society and democracy. I think it will allow us to work through some of the issues to talk really candidly as I was able to do with the president today and I appreciate that about the human rights situation, about the media situation, about strengthening ngos."
On the question about US efforts on the line of contact Nuland said she would be sharing the same message in Yerevan that she shared in Baku, which is ending violence and returning to the negotiation table. "We want to support that process through the MINSK process. With regard to the civilians, they should be we believe returned to Azerbaijan as humanitarian gesture – I will make that point as well in Yerevan tomorrow."
Nuland is in Tbilisi today and will be in Yerevan tomorrow, February 18.