Row Between U.S. and Azerbaijan Grows With Drill Cancellation

Armen Hareyan's picture

The joint military exercise between the United States and Azerbaijan is canceled, Reuters announced Monday. The reason is not known, but Azerbaijan has been angry at the United States for supporting the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey.

The reason of the joint military drill cancellation is not exactly known. When Reurters asked the U.S. Embassy in Baku about the reasons of the cancellation, the embassy suggested "that the question be posed to the government of Azerbaijan."

The defense ministry spokesperson from Azerbaijan confirmed the confirmed the joint military exercise is canceled, but did not specify the reasons. Azerbaijan's defense ministry's website has not updated its news section since April 1, 2010.

On Friday, a senior official from Azerbaijan's president's administration sharply critiqued the United States for its role that the U.S. plays promoting reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia. Armenia and Turkey have signed two protocols in Zurick last October committed to improve mutual relations leading to full normalization. Those protocols must be ratified in both parliaments.

Turkey has dragged the ratification because it wants to get unilateral concessions from Armenia on the latter's relations with neighboring Azerbaijan. Armenia says those protocols have nothing to do with its relations with Azerbaijan. The international community sides with Armenia saying the protocols have no relations to any third country.

The United States, Russia and the European Union want to see the borders between Armenia and Turkey open and trade developing. Turkey has closed its border with Armenia supporting Azerbaijan. The opening of the border has great benefits for Armenia. However, the analysis shows that Turkey may benefit more if the border is opened and trade/reconciliation encouraged.

Last week in Washington meeting with the president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country is committed to the protocol ratification and normalization with Armenia. However, once back in Turkey, Erdogan continued linking the faithfulness to protocols to Armenia's relations with Azerbaijan.

Armenia and Azerbaijan are currently in the process of trying to resolve the Nagorno Karabakh dispute based on the Madrid principles put forward by the mediator countries: USA, France and Russia. Those principles call the return of the internally displaced people, return of the land around Karabakh that the army of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh liberated to ensure its people's safety and a referendum in Nagorno Karabakh about the final legal status of the republic. This is where Azerbaijan does not feel comfortable knowing the referendum will lead to Nagorno Karabakh's independence like in Kosovo.

Written by Armen Hareyan

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