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Pelosi condemns Azerbaijan’s aggression against Armenia, draws Azeri ire

During her state visit to the Armenian capital of Yerevan, the US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi unequivocally expressed support for Armenia, currently under attack by neighbouring Azerbaijan.

“Our meeting again had a particular importance to us because of the focus of security following illegal and deadly attacks by Azerbaijan on the Armenian territory,” said Speaker Pelosi during her state visit to the Armenian capital of Yerevan. “We strongly condemn those attacks, we and our delegation on behalf of Congress, which threatens prospects of much-needed peace agreement.”

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Azerbaijan has been applying constant pressure on the majority-Armenian separatist Republic of Artsakh, in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan. But the most recent border clashes have claimed the lives of more than 200 people.

Pelosi unequivocally placed the blame for the most recent outbreak of hostilities on Azerbaijan and praised Armenia’s democratic efforts.

“Democracy in Armenia is a joy to the world. The ‘Velvet revolution’ was cheered globally,” said Speaker Pelosi, referring to 2018 protests which forced the former leadership of the country to resign and be replaced by the popularly supported Nikon Pashinyan as PM, a post he still holds. “And that is something that was reinforced in a recent election that was free and fair and recognised as such.”

Pelosi also took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Yerevan’s Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial, which commemorates the 1915 Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks.

Azeri response

The Azeri Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a stark rebuke of the visit by Speaker Pelosi.

“The unsubstantiated and unfair accusations levelled by Pelosi against Azerbaijan are unacceptable,” reads the statement. “This is a serious blow to the efforts to normalise relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry claims that the current hostilities are a result of “a large-scale military provocation” by Armenia, and referred to Pelosi’s statements as “Armenian propaganda”, further accusing stating that “Pelosi is known as a pro-Armenian politician.”

There is some truth in these accusations, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concerns over the hostilities and called for calm but did not assign blame, whereas Speaker Pelosi’s apportionment of blame is much more definitive.

According to the Azeri Foreign Ministry “It is unacceptable to transfer the domestic political intrigues on the US agenda and lobbying interests to the South Caucasus region through Armenia,” says Baku. “Such unilateral steps and baseless statements serve not to strengthen the fragile peace in the region, but, on the contrary, to escalate tensions.”

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This is not the first visit of Speaker Pelosi to a potential hotspot. Early in August, she visited Taiwan, prompting an angry reaction from Beijing, which regards the island nations as its own province in rebellion.

Russia has repeatedly condemned Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in a display of support for China and has likewise condemned her visit to Yerevan as US meddling in the region, which it would like to view as its own sphere of influence.

However, since Russian forces are currently busy having their teeth knocked in as a result of a successful Ukrainian counter-offensive the Kremlin was unable to send more “peacekeepers” into Nagorno-Karabakh or into Armenia, its ally as part of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), itself.

The Kremlin announced on Tuesday that it will dispatch a “monitoring mission” to Armenia, a move that Armenian Parliamentary Speaker Alen Simonyan criticised for being too little, and comparing the CSTO to a pistol that did not shoot bullets.

Armenia is the only ally of Russia in the region of Southern Caucasus: Azerbaijan is not a member of the CSTO and is instead allied to Turkey, while Georgia has a generally positive relationship with Armenia, but has broken off its diplomatic relations with Russia since the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia. Therefore, Armenia relies heavily on Moscow for support. But the Kremlin’s inadequate support in the face of the Azeri incursion (the fourth one in the span of two years) opens up a possibility for Washington to lure Yerevan away from the Russian sphere of influence.

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