BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
U.S. diplomat James Warlick has been accused of siding with Aremenia after he voiced support for Yerevan's proposal to end the dispute over the imperilled Sarsang Reservoir.
The dam, built by the Soviets in the 1970s, lies in Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and is generating concern on two fronts. Firstly, it is in serious need of repair and threatens the lives of an estimated 400,000 Azerbaijanis downstream. Secondly, the Armenians who control it are denying those same people its water during the parching summer months.
Giving this hostile stance, Azerbaijan was stunned to hear Warlick suggest in a statement on social media that Armenia could fairly share this resource.
"This is Sarsang reservoir. It would be a positive step if the parties were able to use the resources of water," said Warlick, who co-chairs the OSCE Minsk Group which is tasked with ending the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
But Elkhan Suleymanov, who heads the Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan, responded: "Mr James Warlick is sharing his fantastic and crazy ideas".
"Azerbaijan will cooperate neither with the aggressor state nor with the separatist regime formed by it until the occupation is stopped," he added.
Suleymanov also questioned Warlick's actions on the basis that the Minsk group is supposed to be neutral in resolving this conflict.
He said Warlick is simply repeating the unworkable proposal first espoused last year by the deputy prime minister of the separatist regime, Artur Aghabekyan.
And he further charged that Warlick is attempting to influence the special rapporteur on the Sarsang reservoir who was appointed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe just last week.
"I believe that Warlick's opinions serve the deliberate aim of influencing the investigations of the rapporteur on the Sarsang reservoir," Suleymanov said.
"By doing this Mr Warlick sends message to the rapporteur and PACE members that this is an American position."
The 76m high Sarsang reservoir holds back 12-kilometre long lake. Azerbaijan is calling for an on-the-ground assessment of its condition by independent engineers and hydrologists as a minimum first safety measure.
To date these experts have been forced to rely on aerial assessments of the dam's condition due to Armenia's intransigence.
SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor