Armenian Caucus demands U.S. sanctions on Turkey and Azerbaijan ahead of Biden-Erdogan meeting

Congressional Armenian Caucus leaders today called on President Biden to confront Turkey’s President Erdogan during their upcoming June 14th meeting, pressing him to tell the Turkish leader that the U.S. will “withhold security aid and implement targeted economic sanctions unless Azerbaijani forces are removed from Armenian territory and all remaining Armenian detainees and prisoners of war are released from Azerbaijani custody,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

In a June 11th letter, Congressional Armenian Caucus leaders Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), and Adam Schiff (D-CA), wrote “precedent shows that Erdogan and Aliyev will not halt their destabilizing actions and violations of international law until the United States takes significant action to hold them accountable.”

The letter continues, “Erdogan’s assistance during the war proved decisive as Azerbaijani forces were able to make rapid advances with the aid of Turkish-backed foreign mercenaries, many alleged to have ties with internationally recognized terrorist groups, Bayraktar TB2 strike drones that utilize American components and technology, and heavy weaponry, including the potentially illegal use of cluster and white phosphorus munitions.”

The Congressional Armenian Caucus letter concludes, “Without strong American leadership, Turkey and Azerbaijan will continue to violate human rights and undermine democracy while destabilizing the region. The United States must make clear that there are consequences for these hostile activities.”

Earlier this week, the ANCA joined with In Defense of Christians (IDC) and the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) in urging President Biden to press President Erdogan to stop arming Azerbaijan and end all U.S. military assistance to the Aliyev regime.

“President Biden will be tested on his support for Christian Armenians in his meeting next week with Turkish President Erdogan,” the ANCA, IDC, and HALC wrote in a joint statement. “This past April President Biden pivoted from honestly recognizing the Armenian Genocide to recklessly green-lighting U.S. military aid to a Turkish ally – oil-rich Azerbaijan – that’s hell-bent on completing this crime.  Next week, President Biden needs to talk-the-talk by publicly calling on Erdogan to stop arming Azerbaijan, and walk-the-walk by cutting off his own Administration’s military aid to the Azerbaijani armed forces.”

The Biden-Erdogan meeting comes as Turkey continues to support Azerbaijan’s ongoing aggression against Armenia, as up to 1,000 Azerbaijani soldiers continue to occupy border areas in Armenia’s southern Gegharkunik and Syunik provinces.  Seven months after the November 9th ceasefire, Azerbaijan also continues to illegally hold and torture over 200 Armenian prisoners of war.  Congressional Armenian Caucus leaders have introduced legislation – H.Res.240 – condemning Azerbaijan and calling for the immediate release of Armenian POWs. 

The Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights (ALC) has partnered with the International & Comparative Law Center (ICLaw) based in Yerevan, Armenia, to file cases and advocate before the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Armenian POWs taken captive by Azerbaijan. Last month, ALC and ICLaw published a list of 19 Armenian POWs who were alive in captivity and subsequently tortured, abused and murdered by Azerbaijan. The list of 19 murdered Armenian POWs includes seven elderly, three disabled and 13 civilians.

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