US Embassy Spars Online with ANCA over Karabakh

Armenian National Committee of America


The controversy over the State Department’s recent mischaracterization of Nagorno Karabakh as a region of Azerbaijan has spilled over into social media, with the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan and the Armenian National Committee of America sparring on-line over the proper place of democracy and freedom in U.S. foreign policy.

The on-line exchange on this longstanding difference began on May 25, with Asbarez’s posting of an article, widely circulated on Facebook and Twitter, about the ANCA criticism of the State Department’s recently release human rights report.

On Saturday, May 26, the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan responded to public criticism of its the 2011 Human Rights Report, from the ANCA and others, by posting a note on its Facebook page.

The Embassy’s post was first reported in the media by, in Armenia.

The text of the U.S. Embassy posting read as follows: “The language describing Nagorno-Karabakh in the 2011 Human Rights Report for Armenia follows our guidelines for the reports of all countries. It in no way prejudges the outcome of the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group. We continue to uphold the principles of the Helsinki Final Act – in particular those relating to the non-use of force or the threat of force, territorial integrity, and equal rights and self-determination of peoples – as fundamental elements of any resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

The following day, May 27, the ANCA’s Aram Hamparian posted the following comment:

“Dear friends at the U.S. Embassy: Thank you for the opportunity, as an American citizen, to share these views on your Facebook page. I would welcome your comments, as well as those of our many Facebook friends. Best regards, Aram Suren Hamparian.”

The State Department was wrong to use a human rights report—one that should properly focus on the very real human rights issues at play in the Caucasus, all around the world, and even here at home—as a platform to seek to make a political point, at the expense of democratic self-determination, in support of Azerbaijan’s false claim of sovereignty over Nagorno Karabakh.

The text in question, included in both the Armenia and Azerbaijan sections of the Department’s 2011 human rights report, asserts that: “Ethnic Armenian separatists, with Armenia’s support, continued to control most of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the country and seven surrounding Azerbaijani territories.” There is no valid reason for language dealing with sovereignty issues in a human rights report (this matter can and is dealt with in other publications and statements), except to appease Azerbaijan. To test this proposition, ask yourself: Would this language have been included if Azerbaijan had not pressed for it?

The ANCA has commented publicly on this matter, stating: “With a short sentence, remarkably long on errors of both fact and bias, the State Department risks rolling back the cause of democracy and self-determination a half a century or more. By this standard, few if any of the more than 80 states that have joined the U.N. over the past fifty years would have been allowed entry into the community of free nations.”

This approach is particularly destructive, since it so very transparently—despite all protestations to the contrary—seeks to pre-judge the final status of Nagorno Karabakh in accord with Baku’s undemocratic demands. Denials of the damage that this policy inflicts are about as credible as the claims, also from the State Department, that Kosovo’s independence, and U.S. support for same, should not be a precedent for Nagorno Karabakh, or any other peoples for that matter. Double standards are noticed, and they eat away at the very foundations of our diplomatic credibility. Pretending they don’t is a luxury our nation cannot afford. To test this proposition, ask yourself: Would the U.S. be defending the untenable and undemocratic positions of Azerbaijan’s Aliyev neo-monarachy so vigorously were it not for its control of Caspian energy riches?

According to the double standard applied by our State Department, the Obama Administration, in the name of “territorial integrity,” would have opposed the unraveling of the Soviet Union and even, it seems, the independence of the American colonies.

Imagine, if only for a moment, how ridiculous would it be for the U.S. State Department to have commented on the American Revolution according to same logic it is using today to seek to force Nagorno Karabakh’s return to Azerbaijani (mis)rule: With a few word-swaps, we would have: “Ethnic American separatists, with France’s support, continued to control most of the thirteen colonies of the British Empire.”

It’s sad to see the diplomatic representatives of America – a nation born in a struggle for freedom and that led the campaign to secure the world’s freedom from the Soviet threat and to help deliver freedom for all the peoples of this anti-democratic empire – reduced to defending the very Stalin-imposed artificial borders we once so vigorously condemned.

We can, and must, do better.

This may be among the first social media deliberations between state and citizens over U.S. policy on Armenian issues, but it surely won’t be the last.

As with all other aspects of America’s great experiment in democratic self-government, the more sunshine the better. Only those with something to hide – or a policy they cannot defend – prefer to do their work in the shadows. Vigorous and open discourse on Armenian issues is a healthy thing, one that all stakeholders should welcome with open arms.

Let the debates begin!

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  1. danoog said:

    I’m certainly no expert, but how can Artsakh be a part of historic Azerbaijan, when historically (over 100 years ago) there was no Azerbaijan? And all those ancient Armenian churches and monasteries in Artsakh? How did they get there? Did the Armenians move them in after 1992, brick by brick, stone by stone?
    Clinton and Obama are playing a dangerous game here. Artsakh can never be anything but Armenian territory from this day forth. Armenians and Azerbaijans can no longer live side by side in the same country. 200,000 Armenians are not just going to pack up their bags and leave because the UN or US tells them to leave their homeland. The cows are out of that barn. The only solution now is sovereignty for Artsakh and everyone, including even our dumbass president, knows that. It’s time for the US to recognize the just cause of Artsakh and recognize its independence from autocratic Azerbaijan. I love the US Revolution analogy. The despot Ilham Alyiev makes King George look like Mahatma Ghandi..

  2. edward Demian said:

    The United States owes the First Armenian Republic, and as an inheritor State, the third and present Republic a great debt of gratitude, which has never been paid. Armenia and Armenians incurred the greatest number of casulties, far outnumbering, percentage wise, any other Allied combatant. At the peace table, Armenia was awarded the Wilsonian Solution, and United States was charged with implementing that award. At that time, it was assumed that there were no more Armenian survivors, certainly not enough to populate the territories given. From half a million wretched scattered survivors, we are now 8 million strong, worldwide. We are ready for those lost territories. We need to call to account the US government to its responsibility. Before Artsack (the original Nagorno Karabagh boundries, to the Kura river, as outlined in the treaties of Turkmanchai and related treaties) Nachitchevan, Javack, etc. This is not a good time to discuss Artsack peace. The war is not over; And with the Russian tide bringing our ship to shore, this is not the time to drop our oars in the water.

  3. Arman said:

    Not only the principle of self-determination applies to Artsakh Armenians. The principle of territorial integrity applies to Armenia and not to “Azerbaijan.” Armenia’s territorial integrity is being restored now after the Bolsheviks’ arbitrary “cut and give away” policy toward peoples and provinces. LENIN’S AND STALIN’S ACTIONS WERE COMMUNIST SOCIAL ENGINEERING.
    I have said it before and will repeat- no such country called “Azerbaijan” exists, the name ‘Azerbaijan’ was the historic name of a northern Persian province, which over the centuries was filled with Altaic-Turkic Tatars who assumed the name of the province as the name of “their own country” when in 1920 the Bolsheviks gave them a Soviet Socialist Republic. Eastern Armenia was cut into a further 3 pieces (Nakhichevan, Artsakh, Javakhk), the first two given arbitrarily to “Azerbaijan” and the latter given to Stalin’s Georgia, where Armenian churches are demolished and padlocked, an example of Georgian chauvinism. But I doubt the U.S. State Department will criticize their little Georgian bitch in the Caucasus. So long as Saakashvili eats his tie on camera and obeys Washington, Georgia is America’s good little poodle.

  4. Jack Kalpakian said:

    The approach should be to “reward” the diplomatic corps by sinking the Moringstar nomination and forcing another recess appointment with refusal of hold removal this election year. That should wake up the Armenophobes of foggy bottom.

  5. grigor said:

    karevor che te vor shune erb ev inch khacha… menk enk mer bachti tere ev verj… menk enk u mer sarere

  6. Heghapokhagan said:

    I think time has come that country to be conquered and divided returned to the rightful owners

  7. Pingback: South Caucasus simply a geographic union of 3 states – Armenian Ambassador – Information-Analytic Agency | Lenta Asia

  8. Jack said:

    Can someone please explain to me why Artsakh is not part of Armenia’s territory on maps? I’m not an expert on geography and politics (obviously!), but I’m looking at Nakhchivan which is really Armenian territory, but on maps show it part of Azerbaijan even though they are not “connected”. Why? If maps show Nakhchivan as part of Azerbaijan, why don’t they show Artsakh as part of Armenia especially since virtually all the population is Armenian?

  9. Krikor said:

    The independence is the divine right of the nations. The independence won with the lives of our heros can not be gifted to Azeris.
    US or any other goverment can not turn back the clock of the history.
    Artsakh was stolen from the Armenian people and now belong to the Armenian nation
    US goverment has to accept this truth inspite ol the oil flowing from Baku

  10. Robert Weingart said:

    You must accept that Karabakh and surrounding districts are de jure a part of Azerbaijan, de facto ethnical-cleansed by Armenians.