Asbarez – The Chairmen of the Eastern and Western U.S. Central Committees of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), Dr. Hayg Oshagan and Daron Der-Khachadourian, joined Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Raffi Hamparian and Government Relations Director Kate Nahapetian at a meeting with Ambassador James Warlick, the U.S. State Department’s representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group’s Nagorno-Karabagh (NKR/Artsakh) talks.
The meeting, held in the wake of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s major April 2 offensive, afforded Armenian American community leaders the opportunity to forcefully restate their calls for a forthright U.S. condemnation of Baku’s attacks, atrocities, and threats of renewed war. They also demanded a robust Leahy Law investigation of gross human rights violations against Artsakh’s citizens and soldiers, and pressed the State Department to end its silence on Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov’s public threat to bomb the civilian population of Stepanakert, Artsakh’s capital city.
The Armenian American delegation voiced disappointment regarding the U.S. government’s lack of leadership in overcoming Azerbaijan’s obstruction of the implementation of the Royce-Engel proposals—peacekeeping measures designed to ensure accountability and deter renewed violence. These proposals—backed by more than 90 U.S. Representatives on a bipartisan basis—call for an agreement on the non-deployment of snipers, heavy arms, or new weaponry, 2) the addition of OSCE observers, and 3) the deployment of gunfire locator systems along the line of contact and possibly also the international Armenian-Azerbaijani borders.
During the 90-minute meeting, they stressed that the Armenian American community, in the weeks since Aliyev’s attack, has redoubled its resolve to support and strengthen Nagorno-Karabagh, underscoring that Armenians worldwide are united in support of the security and independence of Artsakh within its constitutionally-defined borders. The delegation forcefully rejected the idea that there could be any negotiations held under threat of repeated Azerbaijani attacks. A suspension of Azerbaijan’s hostilities and sustained peace along the line of contact, they explained, must precede any meaningful talks. And, any talks, to be meaningful, must, of course, include the full participation of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic.