WASHINGTON, D.C. – Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) Board of Trustees Co-Chairman Anthony Barsamian joined Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) on a working visit to Artsakh today. The delegation included Artsakh Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan, Artsakh Representative to the U.S. Robert Avetisyan, and Armenia Fund, Inc. President Maria Mehranian. Reps. Pallone and Gabbard are in Armenia as part of a Congressional Delegation with Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. David Valadao (R-CA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA).
“This trip to Artsakh is instrumental in helping U.S. Members of Congress better understand the current political and economic situation in Artsakh. By seeing the destruction caused by Azerbaijan and meeting with high-level officials to discuss U.S.-Armenia and U.S.-Artsakh relations in depth, Reps. Pallone and Gabbard can better convey the pressing need for U.S. humanitarian aid and better understand the security threats to the people of Artsakh caused by the Azeris. They also saw the need for a peaceful resolution, which includes Artsakh in the negotiations,” Assembly Co-Chair Barsamian said.
The previous day, Armenian Assembly Co-Chair Barsamian, Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, and Regional Director Arpi Vartanian met with Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan and Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan. During the meeting, they discussed the importance of U.S. assistance, especially for de-mining in Artsakh which is carried out by The HALO Trust, as well as the peace process. President Sahakyan emphasized the Assembly’s important role in U.S.-Artsakh relations, and acknowledged the organization’s “patriotic and highly professional activity.”
Rep. Valadao also traveled to Artsakh earlier this week, where he met with The HALO Trust to learn more about mine clearance along the borders. Following the visit, he stated, “Families in Nagorno Karabakh live under the constant threat of landmine accidents and I am grateful for the efforts of The HALO Trust to make Nagorno Karabakh a more safe and secure region.” Rep. Valadao continued, “While their work is renown worldwide, I appreciated witnessing their work and learning more about their efforts and dedication firsthand.”
Earlier this month, Rep. Valadao spearheaded a bipartisan amendment along with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Armenian Caucus Vice-Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Pallone, and Rep. Speier to ensure continued funding for de-mining projects in Artsakh.
U.S. Members of Congress have continued to travel to Artsakh throughout the years. Rep. Pallone visited Artsakh for the first time twenty years ago as part of an Armenian Assembly of America-sponsored delegation. During an historic address before the Parliament of Nagorno Karabakh on January 28, 1997, Rep. Pallone stated, “I hope that my visit to Karabagh, and especially my presence in your legislative body today, will contribute in some small way to a growing international recognition that the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh is a reality.” Rep. Pallone has returned to Artsakh a few times since his initial visit, where he observed local elections and learned more about mine clearance.
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.