Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Condemn Azeri Violence

Congressional Armenian Caucus chairs call on Trump Administration to hold Azerbaijan accountable
Congressional Armenian Caucus chairs call on Trump Administration to hold Azerbaijan accountable

Congressional Armenian Caucus chairs call on Trump Administration to hold Azerbaijan accountable

WASHINGTON—The Co-Chairs of the Armenia Caucus on Wednesday condemned the violence along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border near the village of Tavush and called on the Trump Administration to hold Azerbaijan accountable. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-14), and Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-28) wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to request that the United States encourage Azerbaijan to accept international monitoring and remove snipers, heavy arms, and new weaponry along the Artsakh and Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

“We are extremely concerned about the recent surge in violence along the Armenian-Azerbaijani international border near the village of Tavush. The recent outbreak of violence appears to be part of a deliberate campaign of incitement given the consistent barrage of combative rhetoric and provocative actions taken by from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his ally, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” the letter states. “The United States should not be aiding and abetting a reckless, autocratic state like Azerbaijan for any reason, especially not when it threatens a democratic partner like Armenia.”

The letter also expressed concerns about U.S. security assistance to Azerbaijan and its potential use against Armenia. The United States has sent over $100 million to Azerbaijan over the last two years, defying two decades of funding parity between Azerbaijan and Armenia. This funding has allowed Azerbaijan to shift resources toward offensive capabilities, threatening Armenian lives.

“We thank the Armenian Caucus for their forceful letter to Secretaries of State and Defense and echo their call for U.S. condemnation of Azerbaijan’s cross-border aggression against the Tavush region of Armenia,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.  “We share their support for the Royce-Engel Peace Proposal as the best path toward peace, as well as their alarm over Turkey’s reckless, anti-Armenian actions and rhetoric. Ankara needs to stop pouring fuel on the fire.”

Dear Secretaries Pompeo and Esper:
U.S. Department of Defense 1300 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC 20301
We are extremely concerned about the recent surge in violence along the Armenian-Azerbaijani international border near the village of Tavush. The recent outbreak of violence appears to be part of a deliberate campaign of incitement given the consistent barrage of combative rhetoric and provocative actions taken by from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his ally, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While we appreciate the State Department’s message dated July 13 that urged calm on both sides of the ongoing conflict, we believe there is more the Trump administration can do to hold Azerbaijan accountable for violating the ceasefire in the short term and to help broker a fair and lasting peace moving forward.

On May 20, we wrote to you about the military exercises that were being held by Azerbaijan from May 18 to 22. We warned that these exercises – paired with the rhetoric of Presidents Aliyev and Erdoğan – would dangerously accelerate tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia and could potentially destabilize security in the South Caucasus. Unfortunately, our concerns appear to be coming true.

To change the course of this conflict, we ask you to take assertive action by strongly encouraging Azerbaijan to accept international monitoring and implement the principles of the 2015 Royce- Engel proposals. These principles include the deployment of gunfire locators, the addition of observers, and the recalling of deployment of snipers, heavy arms, and new weaponry along the Artsakh line-of-contact and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. We also maintain our concerns over the $100 million in security assistance the United States sent to Azerbaijan over the last two years through the Section 333 Building Partner Capacity program and continue to fear that money will be used by Azerbaijan against Armenia.

The United States should not be aiding and abetting a reckless, autocratic state like Azerbaijan for any reason, especially not when it threatens a democratic partner like Armenia. Once again, we urge you to immediately condemn the reckless actions of the Azerbaijani military and work with our allies and international partners to encourage the Aliyev regime to accept the principles of the Royce-Engel proposals.

We look forward to your prompt reply to this request. Sincerely,

FRANK PALLONE, JR. Member of Congress
JACKIE SPEIER Member of Congress
GUS M. BILIRAKIS Member of Congress
ADAM B. SCHIFF Member of Congress

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