Senate Appropriations Committee Member Mark Kirk (R-IL) warmly welcomed Armenian Americans to Congress last week for the annual Capitol Hill celebration of Nagorno Karabakh’s commitment to peace and freedom, meeting both with top Karabakh officials and his own Illinois constituents who traveled to Washington for the program, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“What better meeting place to celebrate Nagorno Karabakh’s commitment to freedom and democracy than the United States’ Capitol, which, like Stepanakert, stands as a symbol of independence and self-determination,” wrote Sen. Kirk, in a personal message to all those who gathered for the annual Armenian Caucus celebration, held on December 9th.
Sen. Kirk used the opportunity to spotlight Azerbaijan’s escalating aggression against Armenia and Artsakh, stating, “as you know all too well, the people of Nagorno Karabakh do not currently enjoy the same feeling of peace and security in their capitol, as we do here in the United States. The Karabakh Armenians are faced with a daily struggle to protect themselves from the dangerous aggression of their neighbor, Azerbaijan.”
Sen. Kirk praised the leadership of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY) and over 80 of their Congressional colleagues in advancing concrete steps to bring about regional peace, including the withdrawal of snipers from the line of contact, the deployment of additional OSCE monitors and the placement of gunfire locators to clearly identify the origination of each cross-border attack. “Both Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh have expressed support for these pro-peace initiatives. Azerbaijan has not,” pointed out the Senator.
Earlier in the day, Sen. Kirk met with Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (NKR) Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan and NKR Representative in the U.S. Robert Avetisyan as well as ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian, Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian and Illinois constituent Haik Ter-Nersesyan to discuss Karabakh’s democratic and economic progress in the face of Azerbaijani aggression. Talks also focused on expanding U.S. assistance to Nagorno Karabakh to build on the ongoing demining efforts and meet increasing humanitarian needs.
“We deeply value Senator Kirk’s principled support for peace and his determined defense of the right of the people of the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh to security and democratic self-determination,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian, an Illinois constituent of Senator Kirk’s. “We look forward to working with Senator Kirk to ensure that the Royce-Engel peace proposals are implemented at the very first opportunity.”