Congressional Armenian Caucus Hosts Capitol Hill Reception for Artsakh Delegation

Armenian Assembly Discusses U.S.-Artsakh Relations with Artsakh President and Delegation in Washington, D.C.


Armenian National Institute Director Dr. Rouben Adalian, Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan, Armenian Assembly Co-Chair Van Krikorian, and Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny standing by a copy of the American Declaration of Independence under the U.S. Capitol Rotunda

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).

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Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, President Sahakyan’s Deputy Chief of Staff David Babayan, Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Jim Costa (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.


Armenian Assembly Grassroots & Development Associate Mariam Khaloyan, Artsakh Representative to the U.S. Robert Avetisyan, Armenian Caucus Co-Vice Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Armenian Assembly Public Affairs Associate Danielle Saroyan

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.


Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan

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.

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Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan and Armenian Assembly Board Member Annie Totah

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.


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Additional photos are available on the Assembly’s Facebook Page.

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Members of Congress Commemorate 30th Anniversary of Anti-Armenian Pogroms in Azerbaijan

Artsakh President and Delegation Arrives in Washington, D.C. upon Invitation by Armenian Caucus Leaders

Sumgait Statements

Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Armenian Caucus Co-Vice Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Vice Chair Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) issued statements in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian pogroms in Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). Invited by the Armenian Caucus leadership, a delegation from Artakh (Nagorno Karabakh), led by President Bako Sahakyan, are in Washington, D.C. for a week-long working visit, where they will be able to meet and speak with Members of Congress regarding strengthening the U.S.-Artsakh relationship.

Rep. Pallone said on the House floor: “On February 27, 1988, up to 200 Armenian civilians living in the city of Sumgait in Azerbaijan were indiscriminately killed, raped, maimed, and even burned alive for no reason other than their ethnicity. This senseless violence was instigated by hostile, anti-Armenian rhetoric from Azerbaijani citizens and officials against these innocent individuals. For three decades, Azerbaijan has taken steps to cover up these crimes against humanity and dismiss the atrocities at Sumgait. Even more disturbing is that perpetrators of these events and similar violent attacks have since been lauded as national heroes.” He added: “I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus to remember the victims of the pogroms at Sumgait and to condemn all acts of violence against people who are targeted simply because of their existence. I hope my colleagues will join me in rejecting violent rhetoric and intimidation by renewing our commitment to achieving a collective and lasting peace.”

Beginning in Sumgait in 1988, and spreading to the cities of Kirovabad in 1989 and Baku in 1990, armed mobs of Azerbaijani citizens took to the streets targeting Armenian residences and destroying Armenian-owned businesses while Azerbaijan security services stood by. The Sumgait pogrom was widely reported and roundly condemned, but the violence was never contained. Increasingly, anti-Armenian forces acted with impunity and the pogroms spread across Azerbaijan, leading to the military campaigns of the late 1980s to 1994 to deport the Armenians of Artsakh, until a cease-fire agreement was signed by Azerbaijan, Artsakh, and Armenia. Since then, the cease-fire agreement has been violated on a daily basis, and in April 2016 Azerbaijan resumed full-scale warfare for four days before it was prevailed upon to halt its aggression.

“Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the pogrom against the Armenian residents of the town of Sumgait, Azerbaijan. On February 27 1988, and for three days following, Azerbaijani mobs assaulted and killed Armenians. The violence left hundreds of Armenian civilians dead and injured, women and girls were raped, and some victims were burned alive. Thousands were forced to flee their homes, leaving behind their belonging,” Rep. Schiff informed his colleagues on the House floor. “The pogroms came about as the result of years of vicious, racist anti-Armenian propaganda by Azerbaijani authorities, dehumanizing Armenians. Azerbaijan authorities made little effort to punish those responsible, instead attempting to cover up the atrocities in Sumgait to this day, and denying the government role in instigating the killings. Indeed, even today, racist propaganda against Armenia and Armenians is prevalent in Azerbaijan,” he continued.

On February 28, Rep. Costa stated: “This week marks the 30th anniversary of the pogroms against people of Armenian descent in Sumgait, Azerbaijan. Yet, the violence and hatred of the pogroms failed in suppressing the Armenian people. Their dedication to self-determination burned on, and their refusal to sacrifice their freedom inspired democratic movements across the Soviet Union. To the thousands of Armenian Americans living in our San Joaquin Valley – and to Armenian people living throughout the world, l stand with you. We must continue to advocate for the protection of human rights and democratic freedoms, for the Armenian people, and for all.”

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Artsakh’s Liberation Movement that was sparked in 1988 by the spreading threat of the pogroms. 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) provided remarks to commemorate this anniversary and congratulate the people of Artsakh.
“On behalf of the Armenian American community, I thank the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues for its leadership and principled stand in sending a strong message of support for Armenians in Artsakh in the face of Azeri aggression,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

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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