Matthew Bryza, the US envoy on the Minsk Group sponsored by the OSCE, met with the press on Friday, August 8 in Yerevan to discuss recent developments in the Nagorno-Karabagh peace process. It was most likely his last visit to Armenia.
In the press conference he was critical of Armenia’s oppositional parties which has been voicing its concerns that the agreed upon Madrid principles of 2007 would in no way serve Armenia’s interests. He called such sentiments “empty” in ridicule. He said that, “Certainly those who are claiming that the update of the Madrid document, based on what we did in Krakow, somehow disadvantages Armenia … are operating out of sheer ignorance.” The Madrid principles were outlined in a previous post on this blog.
The article I read quotes Bryza explaining what the Minsk Group has in mind by revising the Madrid principles:
Bryza maintained that the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders agree on the “fundamental concept” behind the compromise settlement favored by the United States, Russia and France. “But it’s a long distance from agreeing on the basic concept to actually agreeing or to having a finalized document,” he cautioned.
“An analogy would be that they have agreed on the menu for a meal,” he said. “They know what dishes they want to cook, maybe they’ve even started cooking some of them, but none of those dishes are prepared yet. They’re still cooking. We don’t know what they will finally look like until the cooking process is finished.”
I just wanted to add here that I enjoy roasting a whole chicken from time to time. Usually I coat the skin with some oil and then apply fresh tarragon and even some basil. I also insert garlic cloves into the breast by first cutting small holes in the flesh. After an hour in the oven I know that the chicken will have a crispy skin and appear light golden brown in color. The meat will be very tender and infused with a subtle garlicky flavor. I know it will be delicious. But the three cooks of the revised Madrid principles seem to be ruining their dish with too many spices, although I am certain that it will be cooked to perfection for their main customer, Azerbaijan. Armenia will be served the leftovers–some skin and cartilage with a little meat hanging from the bones.
Soon Bryza will be off to Baku as the US ambassador to Azerbaijan. During his tenure as part of the Minsk Group he obviously failed to get the two sides to agree on a definite peace proposal, despite the “agreements” the two sides have made over the years that he has time and time again presented to the public with his pretentious smiles and aloof comments. His role in the peace settlement process will seemingly end unless he plays a behind-the-scenes role to appease his buddies in Baku.
A good friend of mine told me a couple of weeks ago, when I conveyed to him my concerns about the peace process and how the conditions seem to be wholly in Azerbaijan’s favor, that if a peace deal was indeed vitally important for stability in the region Moscow would have insisted that Yerevan sign the proposal a long time ago. Russia’s only safe outlet for maintaining its influence in the Caucasus has been Armenia, and the bond of friendship as well as trust has been fostered for hundreds of years. Georgia in its various incarnations has proven time and time again to be totally untrustworthy, and the Russians were historically always weary of the Tartars. A century ago Baku was prospering due to the influence of Armenian businessmen who were making a fortune there, and Russian interests were in that way safeguarded. Thus any interests Armenia currently has need to be protected as they are also those of Russia.
Russia is not about to lose access to its interests in the South Caucasus–it simply needs Armenia to allow that influence to continue. Therefore it will not allow Armenia to lose out in any peace deal, despite its perceived active role in the Minsk Group. These opinions of his make sense, and they provided some comfort, they put my mind somewhat at ease. After all, not one Armenian I have spoken to believes such a peace agreement will ever be signed. My friend believes that even President Sarkisian’s closest allies will never allow it to happen. Perhaps he’s right.