The support of over 100 U.S. Representatives on a bi-partisan letter calling on the Biden Administration to pursue pro-Armenian policy priorities underscores the depth and breadth of Congressional commitment to the security of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), Armenian Caucus leaders told the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.)
“I deeply appreciate the overwhelming bipartisan support we received for this letter,” Armenian Caucus founding Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
“It shows how important these issues are to the US Congress, especially in the aftermath of the unprovoked Azerbaijani and Turkish attacks on Artsakh last fall. The US can and must do more to help the thousands of displaced families from Artsakh that fled to Armenia because of the war and to pressure the Azerbaijani government to release the dozens of prisoners of war it continues to hold,” he said.
“All of this has caused a great deal of uncertainty in the region and continues to threaten Armenia’s young democracy. This important letter urges the Biden administration to take the critical steps needed to strengthen our strategic relationship with Armenia, provide economic assistance to support its democracy, and assist them in caring for these displaced people,” concluded Pallone.
Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Congressman David G. Valadao concurred, noting “The strong, broad-based bipartisan support for this letter reflects our enduring Congressional solidarity with the Armenian people – here in the Central Valley, across America, and in the Armenian homeland. We look forward to working with the Administration on a broad array of policies to protect Artsakh, strengthen Armenia, and bring peace to this region.”
“I am proud to join my Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs and over 100 colleagues in urging the Biden Administration to prioritize economic support for Armenia and the release of Armenian prisoners of war,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), who is of Armenian descent. “I am encouraged by President Biden’s and Secretary Blinken’s past statements in support of a sustainable peace in Artsakh. The US must act quickly to reengage diplomatically with our OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to work towards a lasting settlement that supports the people of Artsakh as they rebuild their communities, protects their right to self-determination, and prevents future violence.”
Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) explained, “As the U.S. seeks to stabilize volatile parts of the world in order to advance global peace, we must work with our allies to protect basic fundamental rights for all humanity.”
Armenian Caucus Vice-Chair Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) noted that, “after the devastating war launched by Azerbaijan and Turkey against Armenia and Artsakh last year, it is time for a new policy in the region that stems from democratic values and respect for human rights. I urge the Biden Administration to act swiftly to take overdue steps like cutting off military assistance to Azerbaijan, reengaging in the OSCE Minsk Group to find a durable resolution to the status of Artsakh, and expanding humanitarian assistance to displaced Armenian civilians. The Administration must also follow through on their commitments and follow the lead of Congress by recognizing the facts of the Armenian Genocide this year.”
Representatives Pallone, Bilirakis, Speier, Valadao, and Schiff lead the Congressional Armenian Caucus, which now has the support of over 115 U.S. House Members.
ANCA Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan applauded the enthusiastic civic participation of tens of thousands of Armenian American and pro-Armenia/Artsakh advocates across the United States in educating Congressional leaders about the situation in the Caucasus and the need for concrete steps to ensure Artsakh’s survival and Armenia’s security. In a live video shared on the organization’s Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages, Yerimyan urged advocates to continue outreach to Congressional leaders through the ANCA’s action platforms and Rapid Responder system – to write, call, tweet, and meet with legislators to advance shared priorities.
The February 19th Congressional Armenian Caucus letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin cited the severity of the regional crisis caused by six weeks of unrelenting Azerbaijani and Turkish aggression last fall and called for urgent action to ensure:
— U.S. emergency assistance that provides the people of Artsakh with the ability to reconstruct their communities and rebuild their lives without fear of further bloodshed.
— U.S. re-engagement in the search for an enduring regional settlement – based on the fundamental right of self-determination – that protects the security of Artsakh and helps to ensure another war does not break out.
— U.S. recognition of the right to self-determination for the people of Artsakh and their role as a legitimate negotiating party in resolving this conflict.
— U.S. leadership in securing the immediate release of Armenian prisoners
— U.S. accountability, including sanctions against high-ranking Azerbaijani and Turkish leaders, the withholding of U.S. aid to Baku, and ending the waiver of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act.
— U.S. support for Armenia’s economic development and assistance to Armenians displaced by Azerbaijani aggression
— U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide by President Biden