Rep. Schiff Votes in Support of Armenia’s Amendments on Syria at OSCE Meeting in Baku

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (center) with Armenian officials in Baku


Key Amendments Call for Protection of Religious Minorities in Syria and Urge States to Prevent the Use of their Territories for Cross Border Attacks on Communities like Kessab

Further Amendment Pertains to Nagorno Karabakh and Affirms Principle of Peaceful Settlement of Disputes and Right of Self-Determination of Peoples

BAKU, Azerbaijan—At a parliamentary meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Armenia’s representative offered two amendments to the Resolution on Political Affairs and Security to protect religious communities in Syria. The first adds language to a section calling for a solution to the crisis in Syria to ensure that not only ethnic groups – but religious ones as well – would be given equal protection in the establishment of a democratic state. Armenia’s second amendment would amend the same section and “Calls upon OSCE participating States to prevent the use of their territories by terrorist and fundamentalist groups for cross-border attacks against civilian populations, including religious and ethnic minorities in Syria.”

Rep. Schiff voted in favor of both amendments, which seek to protect historic Christian communities in Syria. The second amendment is a reaction to attacks and ethnic cleansing in towns like Kessab, which has been emptied of its Armenian inhabitants, some of whom are survivors of the Genocide. Both amendments were adopted.

Schiff said, “Historic Christian communities in Syria and now Iraq are under increasing threat of violence and displacement by radical Islamic terrorists. The international community must do all it can to bring an end to the violence and protect these vulnerable minority populations. I was proud to be present at the OSCE parliamentary assembly and support Armenia’s amendments.”

Armenia offered a third amendment pertaining to Nagorno Karabakh, affirming the right of peoples to self-determination and underlining the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes. The amendment was opposed by Azerbaijan, host of the conference. Rep. Schiff voted in favor of the measure which passed with majority support.

Rep. Schiff Meets with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvilli in Tbilisi
In a meeting this weekend with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Rep. Adam Schiff raised the need to coordinate and focus USAID assistance to meet humanitarian needs in the predominately Armenian region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Rep. Schiff had worked on this issue with former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and USAID Director Rajiv Shah and sought to continue the emphasis on assistance to this economically vulnerable area. Schiff is in the Caucasus participating in a Helsinki Commission meeting.

President Margvelashvilli expressed his willingness to coordinate assistance to Javakheti, and added a new sense of urgency to the issue. With Georgia’s signing of an association agreement with the European Union this week and Armenia’s participation in the Russia-based customs union, it will be more important than ever, the President emphasized, to ensure that trade between Armenia and Georgia can continue unabated and grow.

The Javakheti region is particularly reliant on this trade, making resolution of any trade issues between countries belonging to the separate trade associations – and assistance to the region – all the more timely and vital.

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