Washington, D.C. – Turkey’s support of Azerbaijan’s unprovoked attacks against Armenia represent a dangerous escalation of tensions in the South Caucasus, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). Tellingly, Turkey immediately knew of the Azeri offensive and publicly issued a statement of support. Such overt support of Azerbaijan by Turkey, which it supplies militarily, threatens to further destabilize the region. Destabilization of the region fits within the Erdogan government’s pattern of behavior.
Azerbaijan’s attack on July 12th against Armenia’s northern Tavush region along the international border and its July 13th shelling of civilian areas in the village Chinari would not have taken place if Azerbaijan had kept its word in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Vienna and St. Petersburg peace process negotiations to allow for monitors and investigative mechanisms. Armenia and Artsakh agreed to monitors and have repeatedly approved confidence-building measures. Regrettably, Azerbaijan continues to stonewall the process and has never accepted the proposals.
Armenia’s Human Rights Defender “strongly” condemned “the shelling of [Chinari] civilian settlements which was carried out by targeting the civilian population, their health, life and property,” which was especially troubling given that the Secretary-General of the United Nations in March 2020 called for “an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world due to the threat of coronavirus.” The current acts of aggression by Azerbaijan, which have also been condemned by Members of Congress and Armenia’s Prime Minister, follows a longstanding pattern of hostility against the Armenian people, including the April 2016 Four-Day War against Artsakh initiated by Azerbaijan that started with the killing of a 12-year-old boy, and continued with the gruesome, ISIS-style beheading of a soldier and the mutilation of an elderly Armenian couple. In addition, the Azerbaijani military inexplicably continues to target kindergartens in Armenia’s Tavush Province.
The United States took a principled stand against Azerbaijani aggression by adopting Section 907, which states that no U.S. funds may be “provided to the Government of Azerbaijan until the President determines, and so reports to the Congress, that the Government of Azerbaijan is taking demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The Assembly, therefore, urges Congress and the Administration to fully enforce Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act.
Azerbaijan has spent billions to whitewash its human rights record through its Laundromat scheme and continues its attempts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by targeting Christian Armenians. Baku’s latest actions come as Azerbaijan’s paid Laundromat lobbyist in Washington, DC has made hundreds of contacts to Congressional offices in furtherance of Azerbaijan’s bidding. The United States should not turn a blind eye to Azerbaijan’s undue influence in Washington as well as its reckless and relentless attacks upon Armenia and Artsakh. Congress should immediately cease all funding to Azerbaijan. Further, the United States also needs to convey to Turkey that its statements in support of Azerbaijan, especially under current circumstances, are unwelcome and are cause for great concern as they serve to destabilize the region and contribute to further escalation of tensions.
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.