Armenian Assembly Discusses U.S.-Artsakh Relations with Artsakh President and Delegation in Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Invited by the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan and his delegation are in Washington, D.C. for a working visit, which includes Foreign Minister Masis Mayilian, Parliament Member David Ishkhanian, Parliament Member David Melkoumyan, and the President’s Deputy Chief of Staff David Babayan. The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) joined the Armenian Caucus in welcoming to Washington, D.C. the delegation from the Republic of Artsakh.
The March 14 Congressional Reception on Capitol Hill hosted by the Armenian Caucus honored the 30th anniversary of the Artsakh Liberation Movement. Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Co-Vice Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) were in attendance, along with Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA).
“I was pleased to welcome Bako Sahakyan, President of the Republic of Artsakh, to the U.S. Capitol,” House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Congressman Schiff told the Assembly. “Along with my colleagues in the Armenian Caucus, and throughout the Congress, I stand with the people of Artsakh as they struggle for peace, security and self-determination. After visiting Artsakh many years ago, I know the courage and resilience of its people. The President’s visit was an excellent occasion to reaffirm our strong bonds, and discuss how we can work towards the day when the people of Artsakh can live without fear of provocation and violence across the line of contact,” he added.
In his speech, President Sahakyan highlighted the strong relations between the United States and Artsakh. “I am optimistic – it will be definitely so, for we consider the United States a friendly country, a state which has become second homeland for millions of Armenians. I am optimistic because we have here devoted, sincere and honest friends, who have been standing by Artsakh for many years, supporting our people, providing objective information about our country worldwide. We rate high our friendly ties, considering them precious assets.” He continued: “Cementing and deepening ties with the United States of America have always been and will remain among the fundamental directions of our foreign policy.”
During his remarks, Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Pallone spoke about the significance of the resolution he introduced earlier this year supporting United States-Artsakh relations. H.Res.697, titled “U.S.-Artsakh Travel and Communication,” calls for free and open communication, as well as travel, between the two nations at all levels of civil society and government. The resolution also notes the importance of placing OSCE-monitored, advanced gunfire-locator systems and sound-ranging equipment to determine the source of attacks along the line of contact.
Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Valadao, who travelled to Artsakh during the Congressional Delegation in September 2017, spoke about his visit to The Halo Trust and how he learned more about its demining efforts in the region. “You hear on the outside of the shelling, the sniper fire, and the rocket fire in such a small country but people are living their lives just like our families here. So the resilience, the strength, the courage, of so many people is amazing to see,” he said.
President Sahakyan awarded Medals of Gratitude to Reps. Valadao, Cicilline, Costa, and Sherman for their longtime and substantial contribution to the recognition of the Republic of Artsakh. The President previously honored Reps. Pallone, Speier, and Eshoo with Medals of Gratitude during the Congressional Delegation to Armenia and Artsakh in September 2017.
Rep. Cicilline noted that his home state of Rhode Island was the first U.S. state to formally recognize the Republic of Artsakh. In addition, the states of California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, and Michigan also passed resolutions recognizing Artsakh.
“It was a pleasure to welcome Bako Sahakyan, President of the Republic of Artsakh, today. I hope that the relationship between our two nations grows stronger in the years to come. We stand with the Republic of Artsakh as they fight for the right of self-determination, and I extend an invitation to President Sahakyan to visit Colorado in the future,” Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) told the Assembly.
Following the Congressional Reception, the Armenian Assembly leadership discussed a broad range of issues, including its work with Congress and the State Department, with the Artsakh delegation and Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Grigor Hovhannissian.
“We want to thank the State Department for issuing the visa to the Artsakh delegation for this long overdue visit to our nation’s capital. The Armenian Assembly family and the entire Armenian American community is truly happy and proud to have this delegation in Washington, D.C.,” Assembly Co-Chair Van Krikorian said. “Considering Azerbaijan’s reaction in protesting the President’s trip to Washington, and not protesting similar visits by the President of Artsakh to Moscow, Paris, and other capitals, reveals that their $3 billion Laundromat scheme might not be working in Washington either,” he concluded.
Earlier this week, U.S. Ambassador to Baku Robert Cekuta was summoned to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, and was handed a note of protest for President Sahakyan’s visit. The Foreign Ministry spokesman threatened the U.S., and stated that “Azerbaijan will proceed from the principle of reciprocity.”
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.