September 13, 2022

Congressman Schiff on Unprovoked Azerbaijan Attacks on Armenia and Artsakh

“I am deeply distressed by yesterday’s reports that Azerbaijan is, once again, launching deadly and unprovoked attacks on the Armenian people – this time shelling homes in the villages of Karmir Shuka and Taghavard in Artsakh, and later firing on civilian and military infrastructure in the Armenian border cities of Goris, Stok, and Jermuk. These Armenian cities are not disputed lands – they are internationally-recognized Armenian towns and territories.

“This is not only an egregious violation of Azerbaijan’s ceasefire agreement with Armenia – it is a direct attack on Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and yet another appalling escalation of the Azeri violence that has devastated the Armenian people for the past two years. It comes just days after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev shook hands in Brussels, where they declared their intentions to reach a peace agreement. And it happened just hours after the United States’ new Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group — the international body tasked with reinvigorating the peace process — arrived on a diplomatic visit to Baku.

“The audacious nature and timing of these latest attacks show the unchecked bounds of President Aliyev’s aggression, as well as his contempt for the international community’s efforts to bring stability to the Caucasus. And perhaps, these actions should not come as a surprise — given the international community has time and time again chosen to meet his aggression with deafening silence, emboldening him to continue, and expand, his unprovoked attacks on the Armenian people, knowing there will be no repercussions.

“That must change – and America must lead the way. The State Department and the Biden administration need to unequivocally condemn Azerbaijan’s actions, and immediately and permanently cease U.S. military security assistance to the Aliyev regime, as has been the Congressional intent of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. We must send a resounding message that there is a price to pay for such naked belligerence. Until we do, Azerbaijan will continue to terrorize the people of Armenia and Artsakh until its most horrific aims are achieved.

“Late last night, I spoke with Armenian Ambassador to the United States Lilit Makunts, who emphasized the senselessness and intensity of this latest violence. I shared my deepest condolences for the casualties that are still being tallied, my resolve to pursue swift and meaningful accountability for the Armenian people, and the need for the State Department to act quickly.

“In the coming days, I plan to introduce a resolution in Congress calling for Azerbaijan to immediately cease their attacks on Armenia and Artsakh, underscoring the importance of Armenia’s sovereignty, and demanding a full prohibition on U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan. This latest violence cannot go unanswered – because until America truly demonstrates its support for the Armenian people, more innocent blood will be spilt.”

 

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