Armenian Assembly Rep: ‘Azerbaijan’s brutal style hasn’t changed’

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(ArmeniaNow) – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly), as one of the largest Armenian advocacy groups in the United States, is engaged in serious work with the U.S. executive and legislative authorities to counter Azerbaijan’s attempt to disturb peace and renew hostilities in Nagorno Karabakh, according to a representative.

Assembly Regional Director Arpi Vartanian said, “The Armenian Assembly of America has urged U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama to fully enforce Section 907 to the Freedom Support Act.”

“There should be no assistance from the United States to Azerbaijan if the latter does not stop all military actions against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh and does not agree to a peaceful and fair settlement of the conflict,” Vartanian told ArmeniaNow a week after fragile ceasefire was agreed by Armenians and Azerbaijanis after four days of deadly fighting in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone.

According to an Assembly press release, 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.

“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.

Vartanian said, “The Armenian Assembly of America urges the U.S. government to suspend military aid to the Azerbaijani government until it puts an end to its cross-border attacks and threats of renewing war and agrees to a peaceful settlement of regional conflicts.”

“During 22 years of ceasefire, Azerbaijan shot almost every day. The world understands well that this issue is not only Nagorno Karabakh’s concern, but also a concern for the region. Another conflict is not in the interests of major countries of the region,” Vartanian added.

In a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on April 5, Assembly Board of Trustees Co-Chairmen Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian stressed that Azerbaijan cannot be trusted and “must be held accountable for its egregious human rights violations.”

Comparing the four-day hostilities in Nagorno Karabakh in early April with the war in the early 1990s, Vardanian pointed out both similarities and differences.

“The brutal style of the Azerbaijanis has not changed. They continue to perpetrate the same atrocities and acts of barbarism. At that time there was no internet and social media, now there is all this and within seconds the world sees the unchanged wild handwriting of Azerbaijanis, which is working against them,” she said.

Noting that pro-Armenian and pro-Karabakh demonstrations and protests have been held in different cities of the world these days, the Assembly representative said: “The world must recognize the independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.”

“If the fundamental principles of the American state are democracy and freedom, then it must listen to us,” she added.

On March 25, the Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny 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 2017.

“Part of those priorities include full enforcement of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act; advancing the Nagorno Karabakh peace process; and not less than $5 million allocated to Nagorno Karabakh,” Ardouny said.

About Armenian Assembly of America

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 non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

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