10.01.20

Schiff, Pallone, Speier and 46 Bipartisan Members Urge Secretary of State to Help Reduce Tensions Between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Jackie Speier (D-CA), and a bipartisan group of 46 Members of the House, wrote to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, expressing concern with the escalating conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The Members noted that Azerbaijan’s attack on Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) has cost the lives of civilians and soldiers on both sides, and raised the danger of a broader regional conflict particularly due to Turkey’s involvement. The letter also asks that the State Department take specific steps to deescalate the conflict and encourage all sides to reengage in a diplomatic process to peacefully and democratically resolve the longstanding conflict.

The members wrote in the letter:

“We write to express our deep concern with Azerbaijan’s renewed aggression against Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and the rising possibility of a wider conflict with Armenia. We ask that the Administration use all available diplomatic tools to reduce tensions, end the fighting, and restrain Azerbaijan from further offensive actions…

“In our view, this new round of fighting represents further evidence that the U.S. policy of equivalence between Armenia and Azerbaijan has failed. For far too long, the United States and other members of the Minsk Group have drawn a false equivalence between Armenia and Azerbaijan, even as the latter threatens war and refuses to agree to monitoring along the line of contact.”

The letter was signed by: Adam Schiff (D-CA), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), TJ Cox (D-CA), Mike Garcia (R-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Andy Levin (D-MI), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Dina Titus (D-NV), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Brian Mast (R-FL), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Grace Meng (D-NY), Jason Crow (D-CO), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Lou Correa (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Josh Harder (D-CA), John Moolenaar (R-MI), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Steve King (R-IA), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).

The letter can be found here, and the full text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

We write to express our deep concern with Azerbaijan’s renewed aggression against Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and the rising possibility of a wider conflict with Armenia. We ask that the Administration use all available diplomatic tools to reduce tensions, end the fighting, and restrain Azerbaijan from further offensive actions.

As you know, this weekend Azerbaijan launched the most significant offensive against Artsakh in years, and the resulting conflict has caused substantial casualties and damage on both sides. This action is a continuation of increasingly bellicose rhetoric from President Aliyev and his regime towards Artsakh and Armenia, including the threat earlier this year by the Azerbaijani Minister of Defense to bomb a Armenian nuclear power plant. The sustained and coordinated nature of this action makes clear this attack is qualitatively distinct from previous exchanges of sniper fire or artillery across the line of contact, but appears to represent a planned military operation.

Of additional concern is that Azerbaijan is receiving material assistance and encouragement from Turkey in taking this action. Turkey’s involvement raises the danger of a sustained regional conflict that would be a humanitarian disaster and undermine important U.S. national security priorities. 

In our view, this new round of fighting represents further evidence that the U.S. policy of equivalence between Armenia and Azerbaijan has failed. For far too long, the United States and other members of the Minsk Group have drawn a false equivalence between Armenia and Azerbaijan, even as the latter threatens war and refuses to agree to monitoring along the line of contact. 

The United States has provided tens of millions of dollars in military assistance to Azerbaijan in recent years, while seemingly remaining unable or unwilling to restrain the Aliyev government from offensive military actions or gross human rights violations. This policy is a failure, and we must choose a different course.

In light of recent developments, we call upon the Department of State to take the following steps:

1) Clearly and unequivocally condemn Azerbaijan’s unprovoked aggression, and make clear that if they do not exercise restraint it will call into question the continuance of U.S. assistance;

2) Work with the OSCE Minsk Group to call upon the Aliyev government to cease all offensive uses of force against both Artsakh and Armenia, and to commit to a purely peaceful resolution of status and security issues related to Artsakh;

3) Work with the Minsk Group to press Azerbaijan to accept international monitoring along the line of contact, as called for in the Royce-Engel proposals; and;

4) Engage at a senior level with Turkey to make clear that the encouragement of Azerbaijan’s recent actions is detrimental to the cause of peace and regional stability.

Thank you for your attention to these requests. We stand ready to meet with you and to work with your colleagues toward a peaceful, durable, and democratic resolution of Artsakh status and security issues.

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