Statement by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group

(OSCE) – The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France and Richard Hoagland of the United States of America), together with the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, traveled to Baku (March 11), Yerevan (March 27) and Nagorno-Karabakh (March 28).

The main purpose of the Co-Chairs’ visits to the region was to receive the most current detailed political and military information on the Line of Contact and the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, to discuss the implementation of agreements reached at 2016 Summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg and to address the next steps toward a settlement.

The Co-Chairs met with the Presidents and Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia and the de facto authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh. They also visited territories around Nagorno-Karabakh. In their talks, the Co-Chairs reiterated their deep concern over recent incidents along the Line of Contact, calling on the sides to exercise restraint in their rhetoric and in their actions. The Presidents laid out their positions on the Co-Chairs’ proposals to strengthen the ceasefire and to avoid further escalation of hostilities, particularly in light of the Novruz and Easter holidays. They expressed their commitment to continuing the negotiation process toward a political solution.

In their talks, the Co-Chairs stressed the essential importance of continued support for Ambassador Kasprzyk’s mission and its expansion. The Co-Chairs also emphasized their conviction that respect for the ceasefire is of the utmost importance for building an atmosphere of trust to enable further negotiations.

The Co-Chairs will soon travel to Vienna to brief the members of the Minsk Group.

Armenian Assembly of America Urges Investigation of Azerbaijan’s Ties and Compromising Materials on U.S. Officials

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this week, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) sent letters to the Senate and House Select Committees on Intelligence expressing concern regarding the undue influence of Azerbaijan on America’s democratic institutions.

In their letter to the Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC), Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), House Intelligence Chairman David Nunes (R-CA), and Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA), Assembly Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian stated: “We are writing to express our concern regarding the undue influence of yet another foreign government on America’s democratic institutions, namely Azerbaijan. We are deeply troubled by recent reports about Azerbaijan’s ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its nexus to both the Mammadov family and the highest levels of the Azeri government. We therefore respectfully request that the congressional investigations of Russian influence be expanded to include Azerbaijan’s influence peddling and any materials it may have potentially compromising U.S. officials.”

The Justice Department has previously brought some cases involving Azerbaijan through the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), but much more is needed. According to the “Azeri Oil Money Got a Pass From This Ethics Committee” article in
Bloomberg News, Azerbaijan continues to shell out over $45,000 monthly to the Podesta Group, of which the columnist states “It’s hard to tell whether it’s this creativity and generosity or any real U.S. strategic interest that makes the U.S. overlook the country’s brutal dictatorship. A combination of both is likely: Without the ‘caviar diplomacy,’ Azerbaijan might be considered too small to defy declared U.S. values and principles for its sake.”

“When it comes to the integrity of America’s democracy, the rule of law, and our governance process, we must not turn a blind eye to Azerbaijan’s influence peddling, authoritarian regime and human rights atrocities,” Assembly Co-Chairs Barsamian and Krikorian said. “Further, we must ensure that Azerbaijan’s rampant corrupt practices do not compromise U.S. policies and objectives. Additional evidence on Azerbaijani as well as Turkish wrongdoing is available and growing; we would welcome the opportunity to help advance a thorough investigation and United States response.”

In addition to the U.S., Azerbaijan’s caviar diplomacy is also amply documented in the December 2016 European Stability Initiative (ESI) report, wherein expensive watches, jewelry, computers, and large sums of money, among other gifts, were provided to several politicians from a number of countries in Europe. ESI states that “the ease with which democratic institutions and safeguards can be undermined has emerged as a fundamental threat to European democracy.”

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©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

Click here to read the Armenian Assembly of America’s letter to the House Select
Committee on Intelligence.

Click here to read the Armenian Assembly of America’s letter to the Senate Select
Committee on Intelligence.