U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), and Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) shared a powerful message of peace and freedom today at a Capitol Hill celebration of the 23rd anniversary of Artsakh’s independence featuring remarks by Ashot Ghoulian, the Speaker of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh’s Parliament, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In the face of Azerbaijani Embassy’s efforts to block this Congressional commemoration, a record number of U.S. legislators were on hand to voice their support for the security and success of Artsakh’s citizens in the face of escalating Azerbaijani aggression. ANCA National Board Member Raffi Hamparian and ANCA Western Region Chairwoman Nora Hovsepian traveled from California to welcome legislators as part of a two-day advocacy trip covering a broad range of issues, from Artsakh’s freedom to pending Return of Churches legislation.
“The strong Congressional showing at tonight’s Artsakh celebration on Capitol Hill underscores, once again, the American and Armenian peoples’ shared values of peace and freedom,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “This truly was as much a wonderful celebration of our American devotion to democracy as it was a well-deserved salute to Artsakh’s independence.”
In remarks opening the program, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian called for a silent prayer, first and foremost to honor the three Artsakh servicemen killed by Azerbaijan while aboard an unarmed helicopter on a training mission over Nagorno Karabakh, but also in memory of all those who have been lost – on all sides – during the long years since Azerbaijan started the Karabakh conflict.
Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone, who had met with Speaker Ghoulian earlier in the day, noted, “Since 1991, the people of Nagorno Karabakh have demonstrated their commitment to our shared ideals of participatory and responsive democracy. He added: “Tonight, we celebrate the relationship between the Nagorno Karabakh and the United States, while also recognizing the important role Nagorno Karabakh plays in the stability of the region. With them, we will continue to push for restoration of their war torn economy and work towards peace in the region with a strong and independent Nagorno Karabakh.”
In a letter addressed to the ANCA and shared during the Capitol Hill Artsakh celebration, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) stated “I have long supported the people of Nagono Karabakh in their drive for independence and have advocated for robust funding to strengthen their democracy and achieve their development goals.” Chairman Menendez went on to condemn the fatal Azerbaijani downing of the unarmed Artsakh helicopter and “commend the bravery of the Armenian soldiers who were able to bring these [fallen] men home to rest.”
Thanking the U.S. for its ongoing humanitarian assistance and leadership in the OSCE Minsk Group mediation process in the face of increasing Azerbaijani aggression, Speaker Ghoulian noted that “the only way of establishing a long-lasting peace and stability in the South Caucasus is the international recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic de facto independence and the provision of international security guarantees.” To that end, Ghoulian went on to note that “the people of the Artsakh Republic highly appreciate and are inspired with the continued political support demonstrated by the legislatures in various states across the USA (namely Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Maine and California) in the form of resolutions in support for the right to self-determination and democratic independence of our people.”
Armenia’s Ambassador, Tigran Sargsyan, offered powerful remarks, outlining a comprehensive view of Nagorno Karabakh and underscoring the Armenian side’s commitment to peace, democratic self-determination, and human dignity. Nagorno Karabakh Republic Permanent Representative to the U.S. Robert Avetisyan offered insights on Artsakh’s diplomatic challenges and Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan offered a closing benediction honoring Karabakh’s spirit of freedom.