Congressional Armenian Caucus leaders commended the Republic of Artsakh’s “commitment to advance democratic governance and to the will of your people,” restating their bipartisan support for Artsakh’s full participation in Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group-led peace talk, as the Republic celebrated 27 years of independence, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“The ANCA joins Congressional Armenian Caucus leaders in celebrating 27-years of Artsakh independence, extending our congratulations to the people of Artsakh for their ongoing commitment to the democracy, prosperity, and security of their Republic,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We continue to work closely with U.S. federal, state and local leaders to strengthen Artsakh security through the implementation of Royce-Engel peace proposals, expanded U.S. assistance for de-mining and healthcare, and the removal of barriers to U.S.-Artsakh travel and communication.”
In their September 2nd letter to Republic of Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan, Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), David Trott (R-MI) and David Valadao (R-CA) and Vice-Chairs Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) cited the “important progress Artsakh has made in the areas of human rights, strengthening the rule of law and increasing transparency through government reforms.” They reiterated the importance of Artsakh’s direct participation in OSCE Minsk Group negotiations, noting, “In order to ensure a durable and democratic resolution to the regional issues your country currently faces, we believe that Artsakh must be allowed to directly participate in negotiations regarding its future status and security.”
Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who, along with Co-Chair David Valadao (R-CA) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) visited Arstaskh last year, is spearheading legislation, supported by the ANCA, calling for Artsakh’s inclusion in OSCE peace talks. The U.S.-Artsakh Travel and Communication Resolution (H.Res.697) would also lift barriers to expanded U.S. dialogue with Artsakh.
The Senate and House are currently working to finalize U.S. assistance levels to Artsakh as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 foreign aid bill. In June, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted a report specifically calling for U.S. support for “humanitarian and health programs,” including for “regional rehabilitation centers to care for infants, children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities.” The move prioritizes U.S. funding for programs like the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Center, located in the Artsakh’s capital, Stepanakert, which has helped over 15,000 patients over the past 20 years.
The full text of the letter is provided below:
Dear President Sahakyan:
On behalf of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, we are writing to congratulate you and the people of the Republic of Artsakh as you celebrate the 2ih anniversary of your independence.
It was an honor to host you in the United States Capitol this past March, where we heard you discuss the important progress Artsakh has made in the areas of human rights, strengthening the rule of law and increasing transparency through government reforms. The incredible transition Attsakh has undertaken into a representative form of government is a testament to your commitment to advance democratic governance and to the will of your people.
We believe that Artsakh has earned the right to participate in the ongoing negotiations at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group by continually acting as an exemplar of democracy, peace, and freedom in the region. In order to ensure a durable and democratic resolution to the regional issues your country currently faces, we believe that Artsakh must be allowed to directly participate in negotiations regarding its future status and security. Our hope is that your country will once again be included in these talks at some point in the near future.
Again, we wish the people of A1tsakh our sincerest congratulations and offer our full support for your country. Please know that we remain committed to the development of Artsakh’s economy and its democracy, and that we will continue our call for the formal recognition of its independence.