YEREVAN — The Armenian government reaffirmed support for the OSCE Minsk Group on Friday in response to Azerbaijani criticism of apparent U.S. plans to continue using that mediation format for a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have an international mandate to assist in a lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and nobody has invalidated this mandate,” Vahan Hunanyan, the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
A senior American diplomat, Philip Reeker, was appointed on Wednesday as the new U.S. co-chair of the group that has long been led by the United States, Russia and France. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that in his new capacity Reeker will strive for “direct dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan” aimed at a “long-term political settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry denounced Blinken’s statement, saying that the U.S. risks being left out of the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process with its attempts to “revive” the group. It again claimed that Azerbaijan’s victory in the 2020 war with Armenia put an end to the Karabakh conflict.
Commenting on the Azerbaijani criticism, a U.S. Statement department spokesman, Vedant Patel, underlined later on Thursday Washington’s “commitment to facilitating peace in the South Caucasus.”
“As a country, we are committed to facilitating direct dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia bilaterally, multilaterally, and in cooperation with likeminded partners to achieve a comprehensive peace settlement between the two countries,” Patel told a news briefing in Washington.