ANCA Criticizes Clinton’s Karabakh Policy

WASHINGTON–The Armenian National Committee of America Friday criticized the Administration’s Nagorno-Karabakh policy–as defined in President Clinton’s written response to a bipartisan group of sixty-five US Representatives who had protested his decision to meet this August with former KGB General and current Azeri President Gaidar Aliyev.

The President–in a September 29 letter to these Members of Congress–wrote–"US policy on a settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is fair and impartial. Our position on Section 907–which you raised in your letter–remains unchanged; it hurts US policy interests in the region–including our role as an honest broker in the Nagorno- Karabakh peace process. Moreover–we continue to work with international and private voluntary organizations to ensure that all urgent humanitarian needs are being met throughout the Caucasus– including in Nagorno-Karabakh."

"While we welcome the President’s commitment to seek a just and lasting peace in Nagorno-Karabakh–we dispute his contention that US policy has been either fair or impartial," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

"The fact of the matter is that the United States has consistently sought to predetermine a settlement which would strip Nagorno-Karabakh of its independence and place its population under the threat of renewed Azeri aggression. Nagorno-Karabakh’s security and its right to self-determination are inseparably linked," he added.

"We are particularly hopeful that the President’s assurance that he is working to help meet the urgent humanitarian needs in Karabakh represents a departure from the policies of his State Department–which has stridently opposed each and every Congressional effort to appropriate funds for this purpose."

The July 31 letter to the President–spearheaded by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and John Porter (R-Ill.)–called attention to President Aliyev’s "long record of human rights violations dating back to his four decades as an official of the KGB." The letter also emphasized the negative regional implications of the visit–noting that his invitation "threatens to harm the peace process by undermining confidence in the role of the US as an impartial mediator… and will most likely only encourage Azerbaijan to further harden its negotiating position."

Text of President Clinton’s September 29 Letter to Members of Congress:

Dear Representative:

Thank you for your letter concerning the visit to Washington of Azeri President Aliyev.

The visit by President Aliyev offered a good opportunity for us to reaffirm the importance of strong relations between our two countries and the need for a settlement of the conflict in Nagorno- Karabakh. Given the strategic location of the Caucasus and our desire to see the states of the region develop as peaceful–independent and prosperous nations–it is important that the United States work to strengthen relations with Azerbaijan and the other states of the region.

In our meeting–I emphasized to President Aliyev that the United States is committed to achieving a rapid and peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through our efforts in the OSCE Minsk Group–of the which the United States is a Co-Chair with Russia and France. I stressed that a just a lasting peace in Nagorno-Karabakh will require greater flexibility and compromises by all sides to the conflict.

President Aliyev’s public commitmen’s to engage through the Minsk Group negotiations in direct talks with all sides to the conflict and to open borders and lines of communications following withdrawal of Armenian troops were significant steps forward. As a result–I strongly believe that President Aliyev’s visit served in a very real way to advance the peace process.

US policy on a settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is fair and impartial. Our position on Section 907–which you raised in your letter–remains unchanged; it hurts US policy interests in the region–including our role as an honest broker in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. Moreover–we continue to work with international and private voluntary organizations to ensure that all urgent humanitarian needs are being met throughout the Caucasus–including in Nagorno- Karabakh.

Again–thank you for your strong support as we continue the critical effort to bring an end to the tragic conflict in Nagorno- Karabakh and to promote stability and prosperity throughout the Caucasus region.

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