A few weeks ago, when Hillary Clinton was on her tour of the Caucasus, the Associated Press reported that while in Yerevan, she "implicitly rebuked" Azerbaijan for violating the Nagorno Karabakh ceasefire:
At an evening news conference in Yerevan, Mrs. Clinton implicitly criticized Azerbaijan for a recent outbreak of violence. In mid-June, an exchange of gunfire along the front lines near Nagorno-Karabakh killed four ethnic Armenian troops and one Azerbaijani soldier.
However, if you actually read the transcript of that conference, you have to look extremely hard to find a rebuke of any sort. This is about as explicit as she gets:
The United States strongly condemns the use of force or the threat to use force. And we regret the loss of life that results as the use of force is used. These are unacceptable violations of the 1994 cease fire agreement. And it is also contrary to the stated commitments of both sides.
So, we have called upon everyone to refrain from the use of force or the threat of force because we, number one, do not want to see loss of life or injury; we do not want to see further dislocation of individuals or families; and we do not want to see the peace process harmed. So, my message is the same to everyone: the United States condemns the use or threat of use of force.
You have to have a pretty keen eye to detect any rebuke of Azerbaijan in there.
But maybe the AP was on to something. Because today, during the confirmation hearing for Matthew Bryza to be the next ambassador to Azerbaijan, Barbara Boxer -- a strongly pro-Armenia senator -- asked him about that:
"According to the Associated Press, Secretary Clinton implicitly rebuked the government of Azerbaijan for this outbreak of violence during a press conference in Yerevan earlier this month... Why hasn't the U.S. been more forceful in its condemnation of Azerbaijan? And is the government of Azerbaijan actively trying to escalate the conflict with Armenia?"
And while Bryza dodged the second part of that question, he did -- remarkably, considering the widespread belief that he is excessively pro-Azerbaijan -- seem to suggest that Azerbaijan was the side that started the violence:
"What transpired that day remains not entirely clear to us, but we do know that there were several people killed. There was an Azerbaijani move across the line of contact, Armenia responded, resulted in deaths which, yes, Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton did condemn."
That still can only be considered a "rebuke" by diplomatic standards, but it's a lot more explicit than what Clinton said. Maybe Armenia's foreign minister was right when he said the international community was secretly backing Armenia...