Dec 18 2012

For the progress towards a peace scenario in resolving the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the West and in particular the U.S. can play
a crucial role provided it intervenes in the settlement process at the
highest level, Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins Centre for Transatlantic
Relations David A. Merkel said at an international conference organised
by the Jamestown Foundation in Washington on Monday.

A discussion on the role and influence of Azerbaijan in the region,
Europe and the world became the main theme of the conference, the
website of Voice of America reported.

"The Karabakh conflict is one of the areas where the policy of
'reset' can be effectively used by the Obama administration," David
Merkel said.

The former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza supported
Merkel's position on the need for intervention at the highest
level, noting that participation in the solution of the region's
"urgent problems" does not have to be carried out by the Democratic
administration. "This can also be done by Republican politicians,"
he said.

Bryza compared post-war Azerbaijan buying energy from Russia with
today's rapidly developing country which has already become one of
the world's largest oil and gas exporters.

"This is an incredible transformation in such a short time,"
Bryza said.

He noted that the United States has implemented extensive work in
this country, teaching the government democratic reforms and sharing
experiences in the fight against corruption. In the American diplomat's
opinion, the country has not yet reached Western or European standards,
but is moving in the right direction.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988
when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian
armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan since 1992,
including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The
co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France and the U.S. -
are currently holding peace negotiations.

Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four
resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the
surrounding regions.