House Intelligence Committee Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senior Foreign Affairs Committee Member Brad Sherman (D-CA) added their voices to official U.S. opposition against a biased Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) resolution, backed by the Azerbaijani government, seeking to undermine the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh peace negotiations, reported the Armenian National Committee of America. PACE officials voted down the controversial measure earlier today, following extensive debate.
In a letter to Secretary of State Kerry, Rep. Schiff urged the State Department to “make clear at the highest levels its view that the resolution is one-sided, inaccurate, and counterproductive to the cause of peace and stability.” Noting that Azerbaijan has “taken numerous provocative actions on the Line of Contact resulting in the death and injury of civilians and military personnel,” Rep. Schiff expressed concern that the resolution fails to mention that President Aliyev “continues to reject the installation of technologies along the Line of Contact to monitor the use of snipers and artillery.” Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh have agreed to the placement of such monitoring measures, which were advanced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) and over 80 U.S. House Members in November, 2015.
Rep. Sherman, in his letter to Secretary Kerry, urged that the U.S. take immediate action to defeat the measure which sought to undermine the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group’s leadership role in the Nagorno Karabakh peace negotiations. “Doing away with the Minsk Group is not only bad policy but an insult to the American people and to the hard working and dedicated diplomats at the State Department,” explained Rep. Sherman. “For generations, the people of Europe have urged America to be involved in Europe. In the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of Americans died to bring peace to Europe. Now we are being told that a group chaired by France, Russia, and the United States should be dislodged and a new group, without any involvement of the U.S. should take over.”
“Armenian Americans across California and around the U.S. thank Congressman Sherman and Schiff for their trans-Atlantic leadership in securing a strong U.S. stand against Azerbaijan’s ongoing efforts to manipulate European institutions and undermine the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “We would like to share our support and solidarity with our colleagues at the EAFJD, who – working in cooperation with government and civil society stakeholders and rallying European Armenians, friends of Armenia, and supporters of peace across the continent – played a vital role in the defeat of this reckless measure.”
Both Rep. Schiff and Sherman were writing to bolster opposition previously communicated by the U.S. State Department against the PACE resolution, titled “Escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan,” and presented by PACE Rapporteur Robert Walter. In a January 22nd statement, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, including U.S. Ambassador James Warlick, urged that “steps not be taken which could undermine the Minsk Group’s mandate from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe or complicate ongoing negotiations.”
The resolution was defeated by a narrow margin, with a vote of 66 votes for, 70 against, and 45 abstentions.
The PACE members also considered a second controversial resolution focusing on water resource issues related to the Sarsang dam, located in the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. That measure, presented by rapporteur Milica Marković and widely seen as poorly researched and highly biased, was adopted by a vote of 98 votes for, 71 against, 40 abstentions.