Armenia, Azerbaijan: Face-Off in Mexico Over el Nagorno-Karabaj
Mexico may be far away from the Caucasus' territorial conflicts, but it is offering a venue for another staring-down match between gun-slinging neighbors Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Armenian-Azerbaijani diplomatic face-off over the breakaway territory of Nagorno Karabakh mostly plays out in the US, Russia and Europe, but (as with Georgia and its fight with Russia over separatist Abkhazia and South Ossetia) lately has expanded to the Latino world, with each side on the prowl for supporters.
On October 22, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian arrived in Mexico City to convey his nation’s“bewilderment” at Mexico allegedly taking sides in the 24-year Armenian-Azerbaijani feud. He reproached Mexico's senadores and deputados for passing supposedly anti-Armenian resolutions in the past, and proposed an Armenian embassy in Mexico City as the way to help set things right.
In fact, a stroll through the streets and parks of Mexico City would leave any dutiful Armenian official bewildered.
One park features a monument to the victims of the 1992 slayings of ethnic Azeris in the Nagorno-Karabakh village of Khojaly, an act Mexico has recognized as genocide; in another, passers-by are met by a seated statue of the late Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev, who increasingly appears in various poses and places around the world. That said, a handful of Mexican civil-society activists, who see Aliyev as a "dictator," recently protested against the statue. "We have enough bad symbols here in Mexico; we don't need to import them from outside," one demonstrator told The Los Angeles Times. But, so far, no sign that the Aliyev memorial is going anyplace anytime soon.
Nonetheless, Nalbandian’s hostess, Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, assured her guest that the Mexican people wish Armenia well and that she wishes to see more of him and of ties between Mexico and Armenia. Statues, for now, presumably not included.