ArmInfo. Turan - ArmInfo. The United States is seeking to strengthen its strategic relations with Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, Assistant to US Secretary of State , Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell said in Washington on Thursday commenting on the upcoming visit of the White House official to the Caucasus.
The arrival of US National Security Advisor John Bolton to Baku is expected on October 22. Answering the question of Turan's correspondent in Washington, what will be the topic of discussion at the upcoming meetings in the capitals of the South Caucasus, Mitchell said: "All three countries of the region are vulnerable and face great pressure from Russia, in addition, Chinese economic penetration is happening there."
" The Caucasus critical importance for energy security of the West, ensuring the stability of this region, is a very important priority for us," he added.
On Thursday in a speech at the Atlantic Council , Mitchell made it clear that Western Europe will not become independent from Russia if it supported the ''Nord Stream 2'' gas pipeline project. Summarizing the current US strategy for the region, Mitchell made it clear that now "a new stage has begun for global reach."
For Washington, the return to the great energy struggle begins through restoring the foundations of the economic power of the United States, reinvesting in national defense. Abroad, this means "redistributing the burden between allies and reformatting international institutions that no longer correspond to the strategic reality ..."
Regarding the current US policy towards the Caucasus, the Balkans and Eastern Europe, Mitchell said that Washington will support sovereignty, democratic reforms, European aspirations and does not recognize territorial claims.
"For NATO allies, our message is clear: America is firmly committed to Article 5. For non-NATO partners ... we will support your God-given right to national independence ... America still helps those who help themselves in fighting for freedom, "he said.
Mitchell said that for too long the West took competition not seriously. After the Cold War, many in the West decided that history has ended and concepts such as geography, history and nation, no longer matter. "However, Russia has again become a military factor in the region after the invasions of Georgia and Ukraine. Outside its borders, Russia uses energy, corruption and propaganda to weaken Western countries in order to undermine their ties with the United States."
The current US strategy is guided by the following principles: exert a positive influence with active diplomacy; help to make the region invulnerable to Russia.
America will respect the national independence and sovereignty of the allies and expects that states will respect the rights of their neighbors.
As for democracy, Washington will use it to actively promote its national interests, Mitchell stressed. Speaking next, David Kramer, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for human rights issues, called on Washington to step up support for democratic forces in the region. "Democracy and human rights must be central issues," he said.
Speaking about countering the Russian threat in the region, Kramer said that the support of Russia's neighbors is "the best thing we can do." "We need to make sure that Putin understands that we will respond if he does something else," he stressed.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, who recently visited the Caucasus region, said that all countries suffer from a lack of a reliable justice system, which is a critical component of their democratic and economic changes.
"If there is no efficient justice to curb corruption, then there is the possibility of influence from outside, including negative players like Russia."
Kent also stressed the importance of independent media and civil society as key factors in the democratic development of the region.