Washington briefing: U.S. sees “clear outline” for Karabakh peace, “tangible results” in weeks

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Tuesday September 22, 2009

Undersecretary of State Bill Burns. WashingtonNote.com

Washington - "We hope that the recent progress made in talks between Presidents Aliyev and Sargsian will lead to tangible results when they meet next month," U.S. Undersecretary of State Bill Burns said in prepared remarks delivered on September 18 at an event co-sponsored by Georgetown University and the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington.

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and his Armenian counterpart Serge Sargsian are expected to attend the next Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit in Moldova on October 8-9.

The State Department's most senior diplomat went on to note, "The outline of a possible settlement has been clear for some time, though as with all things, the devil lies in the details and further discussions will be needed to satisfy the concerns of both sides."

Mr. Burns’ remarks appeared to be carefully calibrated and did not include any reference to U.S. recognition of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. Starting in August 2008, former U.S. negotiator for Karabakh Matt Bryza used language that emphasized Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity as the starting point of a settlement.

Writing earlier this year, a former official at the State and Defense Departments, Wayne Merry, also suggested, "the outlines of a settlement have been clear for fifteen years"; he at the same time offered a more concrete formula for resolution that would "reflect both the realities of war and the needs of peace."

"These realities transcend the standard rhetoric of ‘sovereignty and territorial integrity' as well as that of ‘national self-determination,'" Mr. Merry argued in his paper "Karabakh: Is war inevitable?"

"In a settlement, Armenia will get Karabakh and a land corridor to Armenia, while Azerbaijan gets back the lowland surrounding territories. This is not about justice, nor right and wrong, but is the inescapable and necessary formula for peace."

"To be sure, there are a multitude of details (where the devil always lurks) and implementation problems (where the costs for outside powers will be substantial)," Mr. Merry concluded.

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