U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) urged the Obama Administration to speed up implementation of Royce-Engel proposals for Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) peace, during a classified briefing with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group Co-Chairman James Warlick held earlier today, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Over a dozen U.S. House Members attended the closed-door briefing, organized by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In an official “read-out” from the meeting, Chairman Royce stated:
“Violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh region is at the highest point in decades. Just last month we heard reports of heavy weapon attacks and tank artillery fire – a clear violation of the ceasefire agreement. As Ambassador Warlick has said, this isn’t a ‘frozen conflict,’ but is a forgotten conflict – with a real risk of spinning out of control. That is why we need all snipers to be withdrawn, more international monitors to be deployed and gunfire locator systems to be put in place to increase transparency and accountability for each and every cross-boundary violation. Acts of aggression must be clearly condemned. The faster the administration can help put these in place, the quicker it can help put an end to the killing and avert war.”
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian welcomed the Committee’s efforts to spotlight increasing Azerbaijani aggression against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh – and, in particular, the implementation of concrete steps to end the violence: “Chairman Royce is driving the U.S. agenda for a sustainable Nagorno Karabakh peace, working, on a bipartisan basis, to press the Obama Administration over its failure to confront Aliyev’s aggression and demanding decisive steps to implement the life-saving Royce-Engel proposals to avert the renewed outbreak of war.”
The special briefing comes in the wake of an October 26th Congressional letter addressed to Ambassador Warlick, initiated by Chairman Royce and Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY) and cosigned by over 80 of their House colleagues, outlining three concrete steps to address escalating Karabakh violence: the removal of snipers, an increase in OSCE monitors, and the deployment of a gunfire locator system. Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh have both expressed support for these life-saving initiatives; Azerbaijan has not. The text and list of signatories of the Royce-Engel letter is available at:
Chairman Royce first announced the Committee’s intention to host a briefing with Ambassador Warlick at the Capitol Hill celebration of Nagorno Karabakh’s commitment to peace, held on December 9th, in conjunction with the nationwide “ANCA Fly-In for #NKPeace” advocacy campaign.
“Why are the snipers not pulled back? […] Why have we not deployed those special [gun fire] direction finders?” asked Chairman Royce at the Capitol Hill event, citing reports of unprecedented Azerbaijani tank fired shelling and high-powered rifle fire, which claimed the life of 24-year-old Garik Gurgen Avanesyan earlier that day.
Chairman Royce concluded his remarks, noting “I retain hope that one day the people of Nagorno Karabakh will be able to live in peace, enjoying security and a flourishing trade with its neighbors in the region, and I give thanks to those of you here who are committed to that peace and who are committed to stay engaged to see that that happens.”