The violence and destruction of the war launched by Azerbaijan have brought great pain and suffering to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh [(Artsakh)], and the challenge of reaching a peaceful and durable solution has unfortunately been made more difficult. John Evans, the US ambassador to Armenia from 2004 to 2006, stated this in an interview with Tert.am. We present below an excerpt from this interview.
Mr. Evans, availing of the opportunity of the interview with you, I would like to ask you questions also about the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh. After 44-day war, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev appeared with a statement saying that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been resolved, and Armenia should not have any demands. What are your thoughts of the post-war situation? What attitude do you think President Joe Biden’s administration has adopted towards this issue?
The United States, as one of the three Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, has always advocated a peaceful resolution of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, along with France and the Russian Federation. For some twenty-six years the mediators attempted to assist the parties in reaching a just and lasting solution, several times coming quite close, as in Key West in 2001. But diplomacy, like politics, is the art of the possible, and we saw last fall what can happen. The violence and destruction of the war launched by Azerbaijan have brought great pain and suffering to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the challenge of reaching a peaceful and durable solution has unfortunately been made more difficult. As has always been the case, the Co-Chairs are available to assist the parties, but it is the parties themselves who are ultimately responsible for resolving the many issues at stake.
Armenian captives are still being held hostage in Azerbaijan after the war for purposes of political bargaining and trade. What solution do you see to this particular issue? Do you see any possibility for the United States to help Armenia with this problem to facilitate the repatriation of its captivated citizen?
Unfortunately, the seizure of hostages for ransom or political bargaining is practiced by some states and non-state actors. The first war fought by the United States was against the pirates of the Barbary Coast of North Africa, who engaged in such practices. It was encouraging to see the return of some of the Armenians who have been wrongfully detained, and the charges dropped by the court in Baku against others, but the original actions - not to mention acts of cruelty and savagery we have seen in some videos - go against established international norms and humanitarian principles. They must be condemned.