by Tatevik Shahunyan
"After the things Russia did in the Crimea, the need to resolve the conflict became more urgent," U.S. Ambassador to Baku Richard Morningstar said in an interview with the Azerbaijani Service of Radio Liberty. Turan reports.
Morningstar said that the release of the 7 regions around Karabakh is a compelling condition and a part of the Karabakh settlement and the final status of the region must be defined in subsequent negotiations.
"After the things Russia did in the Crimea, who knows how Russia or a third party may use the situation? In connection with the situation in Ukraine I want to stress again that Azerbaijan and the United States should try to save the relationship. For, as I said before, who will stand on the independence of Azerbaijan? Who could do that besides the U.S. and Europe?" said Morningstar.
"It seems to me that many people in the government of Azerbaijan, including the President, understand that the relationship with the U.S. is very important. But perhaps in the government they do not want a repeat of Maidan events in Azerbaijan. According to these people, to prevent this they should increase the pressure on human rights and democracy. But this is a bad lesson learned from the Ukrainian events. On the one hand, it is believed that after the events in Ukraine the relations with the U.S. are important. On the other hand, it is believed that it is necessary to complicate the work of civil society so that it (Maidan of Independence) was not repeated in Azerbaijan," he said. This position is wrong and "overlapping oxygen" to civil society increases the likelihood of recurrence of Maidan - if not now, then in 5 years or 10. The more closed opportunities for civil society, the greater the risks are increasing, said the Ambassador.
Morningstar agrees that the Ukrainian events were an indication of how corruption led to the defeat of the state system. According to him, Azerbaijan has made some progress in the fight against corruption and noted the positive experience of ASAN Khidmet. But challenges still remain. The fight against corruption is not only the elimination of petty bribery, but also the need to create equal opportunities for all. Monopolies and oligarchic economy are a major challenge to the development of the Azerbaijani economy, and especially in the non-energy sector. Morningstar noted the importance of the WTO accession, the enactment of the Competition Code, etc.