Congress, Assembly Urges White House to Implement Royce-Engel Proposals, Suspend U.S. Military Aid to Azerbaijan
WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Yesterday, the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairs
Representatives Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Robert Dold (R-IL) sent
letters to President Obama and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs condemning the latest
Azerbaijani attacks against Nagorno Karabakh and calling for a
suspension of U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan.
The Armenian Assembly of
America (Assembly) strongly supports the Armenian Caucus initiative and
urges the United States to take a stronger stance against Azerbaijan and
towards peaceful negotiations.
“We request that you
condemn Azerbaijan’s aggression, suspend U.S. military aid to
Azerbaijan, provide emergency relief aid to Nagorno Karabakh, and send a
State Department fact-finding mission to both evaluate the destruction
inflicted by Azerbaijan’s aggression and assess the humanitarian relief
and reconstruction needs of Nagorno Karabakh’s affected civilian
population,” the Pallone-Dold letter reads.
Addressed to the State and
Foreign Operations Subcommittee’s Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and
Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), the Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs
expressed their opposition to providing U.S. military assistance to
Azerbaijan using American tax payer dollars. “We urge the suspension of
military aid until its government ceases cross-border attacks, ends its
threats of renewed war, and agrees to a settlement of regional conflicts
through peaceful means,” the letter states.
“Rather than providing
military aid to Azerbaijan we should be putting pressure on the country
to cease its undemocratic policies,” the Co-Chairs suggested.
The Armenian Caucus letter echoes the Armenian Assembly’s April 5 letter
to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Assembly Board of Trustees
Co-Chairmen Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian urged the U.S. to resume
full enforcement of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act.
“There can be no U.S.
assistance to Azerbaijan unless and until it ceases all military
hostilities against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh and agrees to a path
for a peaceful and just resolution of the conflict. Anything less risks
further escalation and full-scale war,” Co-Chairs Barsamian and
Krikorian stated in the Assembly letter.
Several Members of Congress also released statements
this week condemning Azerbaijan’s military attacks that left over 50
dead, including a 12-year-old Armenian boy and an elderly Armenian
couple who were killed execution-style. As of April 7, eleven Members of
Congress expressed their concern and released statements on the recent
attacks in Karabakh, including Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Robert Dold
(R-IL) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA), David
Cicilline (D-RI), Jim Costa (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Devin Nunes
(R-CA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA),
and David Valadao (R-CA). Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) also issued a
statement on this matter.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA)
suggested that “U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan be cut off until it ceases
its aggression, renounces violence, and commits to a purely peaceful
resolution of the conflict.”
“I will continue to work
with my colleagues to provide humanitarian assistance in Nagorno
Karabakh and demand the suspension of US military aid to Azerbaijan
until its government fully agrees to end cross-border attacks,” Rep.
Grace Napolitano (D-CA) stated.
Prior to the Nuclear
Security Summit, Members of Congress encouraged the U.S. to take the
opportunity to meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and discuss a
peaceful resolution for the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.
“I joined dozens of my
Democratic and Republican colleagues in March 2016, calling on President
Obama and his administration to work with the two parties in advance of
last week’s Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. to deescalate
the ongoing situation,” Rep. Napolitano added.
Rep. Sherman said he
previously urged the U.S. to use the opportunity provided by the summit
to advance the peace process in Artsakh. Instead of peace, “it appears
that Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev launched new attacks against Nagorno
Karabakh,” he added.
Both of the letters, as
well as many statements by Members of Congress, point out that
Azerbaijan’s recent hostilities came almost immediately after meeting
with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.
meetings in D.C. with Secretary Kerry and Vice President Biden last
week, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev does not appear committed to the
peace process and I question his sincerity in trying to reach a
resolution,” Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) said.
In his statement, Rep.
Adam Schiff (D-CA) pointed out that the attacks occurred just hours
after Azerbaijan’s President returned from meetings in Washington, D.C.
with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry. Rep.
Schiff urged the Obama Administration and the OSCE Minsk Group to
“demand accountability on the part of Azerbaijan and continue to work
toward implementing proposals that promote peace.”
On April 6, the
governments of Azerbaijan and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic announced
the cessation of hostilities and the Armenian Assembly of America hopes
that the cease-fire holds.
On March 25, the Assembly submitted testimony
to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations,
and Related Programs where he outlined nine key policy priorities for
the Armenian American community in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. Part of those
priorities included full enforcement of Section 907 of the FREEDOM
Support Act; advancing the Nagorno Karabakh peace process; and not less
than $5 million to Nagorno Karabakh, especially for the Lady Cox
Established in 1972, the
Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
issues. The Assembly is a 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.