Members of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region met with the US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassador James Warlick on Thursday to convey their views and expectations regarding the future of Artsakh. The meeting was part of a series the ANCA WR helped organize for the Ambassador’s trip to Los Angeles with a mission of having the Armenian-American community’s collective voice heard as he continues to play a key role in attempting to bring a just resolution to the region.
During the meeting, ANCA WR leadership raised several key concerns with the Ambassador and conveyed the strong and united position of the Armenian community that a just settlement of the issue will include nothing less than full and complete international recognition of the independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.
Most significantly, the Madrid Principles, touted as a roadmap to settlement, envision Artsakh’s surrender of territory based only on a vague promise from Azerbaijan for a future referendum without clarification as to the precise issue to be voted upon, a date for such a referendum, or specific delineation of who will participate in such a vote.
Additionally, ANCA WR leadership encouraged the direct participation of Artaskh’s duly elected leadership at the table of negotiations in order to effectuate a just and inclusive resolution of the issue.
The inability of Artsakh to use its airport for its people to have the basic right to travel and Azerbaijan’s ongoing attempts to rewrite history were also discussed. A request was conveyed that the US State Department encourage US elected officials to travel to Artsakh on fact-finding missions in order to witness first-hand the democratic, peace loving state and thereby be able to make educated foreign policy decisions concerning the future of the region.
In addition, ANCA WR expressed the expectation of the Armenian American community that the U.S. government properly characterize the over 300 weekly cease fire violations perpetrated by Azerbaijan across the border on to Artsakh, instead of continuing to make it seem as though the conflict is two-sided.
Lastly, the group discussed the aggressive rhetoric that continues to come from Baku, while the US continues to remain mostly silent on the issue, allowing Azerbaijan and its leaders to use words of war and threats against Artsakh, Armenia, and the entire Armenian Nation. The ANCA WR leaders stressed that the United States has an obligation to speak with moral clarity on the issue and to support the right of all people to self-determination, especially since the United States itself was founded upon such principles, rather than appearing to take a neutral stance on issues of blatant aggression by Azerbaijan.
Ambassador Warlick expressed support of the Minsk group process as an honest broker in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and committed himself to finding a resolution that would result in peace and prosperity in the region.
Following the meeting with ANCA WR, the Ambassador went on to meet with youth organizations including the Armenian Youth Federation – Western Region and the ARF Shant Students’ Association, where the two groups echoed similar concerns.
That same evening, the ANCA WR hosted a reception at the Armenian Cultural Foundation Headquarters, which provided a platform for community organizations and leaders to have an opportunity to meet the Ambassador. The reception included a program with opening remarks provided by ANCA WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, an update from Ambassador Warlick, and a heavy and frank question and answer session.
Community organizations and leaders present at the reception included Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Church of America, Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian representing the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, Deputy Consul General of the Republic of Armenia Artak Galstyan, as well as leaders representing the Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnaktsutyun, the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party Western USA Region, the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region, the Armenian Council of America, the Armenian Youth Federation – Western Region, the A.R.F. Shant Students’ Association, the Armenian Relief Society – Western Region, the Armenian Bar Association, and the Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America.
“I was pleased to meet with the Armenian-American community in the Los Angeles area. I appreciate their commitment to finding a lasting peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” stated Ambassador Warlick.
On the morning of May 2, 2014, the Ambassador visited Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School where he had the opportunity to first visit 4th and 6th grade classes for a discussion on conflict resolutions followed by a general assembly with the 8th, 10th, and 12th grade classes.
The series of meetings concluded with a visit to the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church headquarters, where the Ambassador met with Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, who discussed cultural preservation and destruction of churches and cemeteries in Artsakh.
“We were glad to have Ambassador Warlick visit the Los Angeles area and hear the concerns of the community. We call upon him and the United States Government to take a more proactive role in protecting innocent civilians in Artsakh and Armenia from continued Azeri aggression and to hold the Azeris accountable for their repeated and ongoing cease fire violations and other acts of aggression including the Safarov scandal, sniper attacks, and war mongering against all Armenians. We are hopeful that Ambassador Warlick will continue to play a key role in helping Artaskh overcome the challenges that lay ahead in guaranteeing its right to self-determination and security and ensuring continued development of her democratic institutions, ultimately resulting in full international recognition of her independence,” commented Nora Hovsepian, ANCA WR Chair.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.