From the South Caucasus to South America: More Tensions over El Karabaj
Uruguay may be best known these days for its government’s push to become a "leading pot dealer," but it will need much more than cannabis to make peace with Azerbaijan over a recent trip by Uruguayan lawmakers to breakaway Nagorno Karabakh.
The decades-long row between Azerbaijan and Armenia about Karabakh has been increasingly playing out in Latin America, with Yerevan seeking supporters for the territory’s independence from Azerbaijan, and Baku working to nip such ideas in the bud.
Uruguay, with one of Latin America's largest Armenian Diasporas and a track record of having already recognized as genocide the Ottoman Empire's slaughter of ethnic Armenians, has now found itself in the middle of this tug-of-war.
After arriving in Yerevan early last week, Uruguayan House of Representatives Speaker Jorge Orrico and other delegates hopped over to Karabakh to meet de-facto leader Bako Sahakian and other local officials.
In comments similar to an earlier statement by Uruguay’s foreign minister, Luis Almagro, Orrico expressed support for Karabakh, but stopped short of making unequivocal promises to recognize the territory.
Still, it was enough to rile Baku.
In an ongoing ping-pong exchange of diplomatic notes, Montevideo on November 19 tried to reassure Azerbaijan about the depths of its respect; without, that is, failing to mention its "deep and traditional contacts" with Azerbaijani foe Armenia. Arguably, it's those "deep and traditional contacts" which may present a key sore point for Azerbaijan these days. Speaking on November 17 to members of his ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev denounced (as he has before) "the Armenian lobby," a term usually applied to Armenian Diaspora groups, as "our main enemy," Trend.az reported. What Uruguay, with its support for Armenian-Diaspora-promoted initiatives, makes of such reasoning is not clear. But perhaps that will come in lesson two of this crash course on Caucasus Conflicts.