By Edmond Y. Azadian
Our globetrotting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began her recent tour in Scandinavia and is continuing on to the Caucasus region and will conclude in Istanbul, Turkey. Upon arriving in Yerevan on Monday, she remarked that her delegation truly enjoyed Armenia’s balmy weather, after their visit to the arctic region in the north of Europe. That talk of weather seemed to set the tone of her visit to Armenia since most of the public and private talks with the officials amounted to little more than lip service.
There were perhaps two main reasons for this grand tour: first, in an election year it is important to demonstrate to the public that the US government is tending to its global responsibilities dutifully and second, after Vladimir Putin’s re-election as Russia’s president, to explore the underbelly of the Russian bear and find out what reactions US initiatives in the region may generate.
The Armenian government was very appreciative of the visit, which would contrast the previous visits of Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who sidestepped Armenia with brazen arrogance while visiting its neighbors. That contentment was fully expressed in President Serge Sargisian’s welcoming remarks, which dwelled mostly on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
On many issues of real substance to Armenia, the secretary of state was demonstrably elusive.
To be fair, we have to refer to two issues, which were addressed to the satisfaction of Mrs. Clinton’s hosts: on May 19, President Serge Sargisian boycotted the NATO conference in Chicago because a declaration was drafted to be signed by the participants, favoring Turkish and Azeri causes of action. Indeed, it deviated from the three principles of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group on Karabagh negotiations, the declaration touted the principle of territorial integrity, deleting the principles of non-use of force and the right to self-determination. The declaration read in particular: