Members of Congress continue to express alarm at Azerbaijan’s most recent military attack across the Armenian border, which have made Armenian soldier Hrant Poghosyan Azerbaijan’s latest casualty, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The response, to date, from the Obama Administration and OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, currently travelling in the Caucasus region, has been delayed, muted and off-target, limited only to generic references to border violence “undermin[ing] prospects for peace.”
“Our Administration, which is represented as a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, should be clear in condemning the murder of Hrant Poghosyan, breaking, as it must, from its pattern of pretend parity in response to each and every new Azerbaijani attack,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “The OSCE Minsk Group’s artificial even-handedness is inexcusable, and only emboldens Baku, which has made a cruel and dangerous habit of cross-border killings during visits by international mediators.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Central Valley Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) noted that he was “appalled to learn of yet another murder of an Armenian soldier in an unprovoked attack by Azerbaijani troops against Armenian forces. This tragic bloodshed follows the Azerbaijani government’s heroic treatment of Ramil Safarov – the Azerbaijani military officer who savagely killed an Armenian solider. Azerbaijan, its military, and the perpetrator of this heinous crime must be held accountable for their actions and brought to justice.”
Costa’s comments follow statements issued earlier this week by the Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) condemning the attack.
“Azerbaijan has yet again shown that it is not serious about establishing peaceful relations with Armenia and Artsakh. Despite the request for a ceasefire during the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Azeri forces have killed an Armenian solider, Hrant Poghosyan. The shooting was unprovoked and Armenian forces have respected the request for a ceasefire,” explained Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA)
Rep. Schiff echoed those concerns and called attention to Azerbaijan’s ongoing use of violence to resolve the Karbakah conflict. “One need only look at the sick display of adulation that greeted Ramil Safarov — the Azerbaijani military officer who beheaded an Armenian colleague during a NATO Partnership for Peace exercise — to see how the Azeri government has glorified this violence. Rather than prison, Safarov was paraded through the streets and given a new house and a promotion. Baku’s newest murderer will not be brought to justice until the international community insists on an end to these atrocities.”
On December 19th, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs issued a press release referencing, in general terms, the border violence that led to Poghosyan’s murder. According to the release, “the Co-Chairs noted that recent violence on the border undermines prospects for peace. They encouraged the sides to refrain from further actions that could increase tensions, and to work to maintain an atmosphere conducive to progress at the negotiating table.”
On December 15th, Armenian soldier Hrant Poghosyan was shot by Azerbaijani snipers while serving at defensive positions near his home town of Berd, located in the Tavoush region. The killing coincided with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs visit with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.