WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) submitted testimony today to the Helsinki Commission Briefing titled, “Averting All-Out War in Nagorno-Karabakh: The Role of the U.S. and OSCE.” The panelists featured were former OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair (1999-2001) Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh, former OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair (2013-2016) Ambassador James B. Warlick, and International Crisis Group’s Europe and Central Asia Program Director Magdalena Grono.
“President Aliyev has plainly not abided by what he and his country agreed and we are grateful that this year the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in two statements already have begun to identify Azerbaijan as the cause for the loss of innocent lives. The false equivalency that so many observers and actors try to apply to this conflict does not square with effective conflict resolution or American values,” the Assembly stated in its testimony.
During the Commission Briefing, Amb. Warlick stressed the importance of peace in the region, and noted that all the points of the Madrid Principles are interrelated, of which the entire panel agreed there needs to be respect for the principles of self-determination, territorial integrity, and the non-use of force.
The Assembly also highlighted Azerbaijan’s cease-fire violations along the Line of Contact, which, since 2014, were more than 77,000 times, and over 1.4 million shots fired. Azerbaijan continues to fire at several kindergartens, targeting young children in Armenia’s Tavush region.
“Instead of negotiating in good faith, Azerbaijan’s president has made it clear that he intends to continue to escalate hostilities in order to force concessions,” the Assembly continued. “The breadth and scope of the violations demonstrate a systematic pattern that must be addressed, and that is the reason why the Assembly strongly supports the agreements brokered by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and reached by the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to reinforce respect for the 1994 cease-fire agreement signed by the governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh.”
In its testimony, the Assembly called for confidence building measures (CBMs) to help reduce tensions and build a path toward a just and peaceful resolution, which was supported by all of the panelists during the briefing.
“While Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) have repeatedly agreed to confidence building measures, Azerbaijan has consistently rejected such initiatives. Earlier this year, despite U.S. objections, Azerbaijan unilaterally forced the closure of the OSCE office in Yerevan, Armenia because of its humanitarian de-mining activities,” the Assembly said.
Amb. Cavanaugh mentioned the exceptional work that The Halo Trust continues to do clearing land mines in Artsakh, and commended them for their efforts. He pointed out that it is in the best interests for Azerbaijan to cooperate with this organization for mine clearance, which would ultimately benefit everyone in the region.
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.