Armenian American Organizations Protest Clinton Policy on Karabakh

WASHINGTON–Thirteen leading Armenian-American organizations joined together this week in calling upon President Clinton to correct the Administration’s pro-Azeri bias in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. The community-wide letter to the President–the third in the past year and a half–was delivered to the White House in anticipation of the December 18-19 Copenhagen Ministerial Conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The letter was signed by the Apostolic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics; Armenian Assembly of America; Armenian Bar Association; Armenian Evangelical World Council; Armenian General Benevolent Union; Armenian Missionary Association of America; Armenian National Committee of America; Armenian Relief Society; Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America – East; Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America – West; Knights of Vartan; Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church – East–and; Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church – West.

Below is the complete text of the letter: Dear Mr. President:

As the Administration prepares to take part in the Copenhagen Ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–we write to express our profound concern about current US policy on Nagorno-Karabakh.

There is a sharp sense of disappointment–widely shared by Armenian-Americans–regarding the Administration’s abandonment of its commitment to remain an impartial facilitator of the peace process and an honest broker in this conflict. During the course of the past year–US diplomacy has amounted to little more than endorsing Azerbaijan’s rigid negotiating position in the form of repeated efforts to impose a predetermined settlement that would strip Nagorno-Karabakh of its independence and force it under Azerbaijani control.

The State Department–through the OSCE–and indirectly through international financial institutions–has brought undue diplomatic–economic–and political pressure to bear against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. This has encouraged Geidar Aliyev and his oil industry partners to harden their negotiating posture. This clear bias on the part of the United States in support of Azerbaijan’s political objectives has fueled that government’s expansionist ambitions and military build-up–significantly contributing to their refusal to negotiate in good faith.

Armenian Americans cannot support short-sighted policies which–in the name of promoting peace–destabilize the region by unfairly isolating Armenia and pressuring Nagorno-Karabakh into untenable and unsustainable solutions. The latest OSCE Minsk Group package–despite its assurances of international guarantees–cannot ensure Karabakh’s security–nor can they be a valid substitute for the freedom and independence that the people of Karabakh attained at great sacrifice and in accordance with international legal norms.

Mr. President–the Administration’s policies–rather than promoting a viable peace process–have–unfortunately–helped undermine that process. As the leadership of Armenian American organizations–we call upon you to correct this imbalance prior to the upcoming OSCE summit in Copenhagen by adopting the following guidelines: 1. Fair process: No imposed settlemen’s

The United States should establish and assert a neutral stance in the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations. We should facilitate progress toward a negotiated settlement–freely reached by the parties to the conflict–and oppose any efforts to force a predetermined settlement or to issue prejudicial statemen’s. The Administration should seek to avoid repeating its mistakes in Lisbon–where our government endorsed a statement by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office that was prejudicial to the spirit and stated intent of the Minsk Group process. Instead–our representatives should advance United States interests by facilitating a just settlement that is acceptable to all parties. 2. Full participation By Nagorno-Karabakh

The United States should insist upon the participation of Nagorno-Karabakh in all aspects of the OSCE peace process and in all diplomatic deliberations–in Copenhagen and elsewhere–concerning its future. At the same time–the United States should encourage Karabakh and Azerbaijan to negotiate a lasting and equitable settlement consistent with Karabakh’s right to self-determination. 3. Lifting of the Turkish And Azerbaijani blockades

The United States should take decisive steps to ensure that Azerbaijan and Turkey end their blockades–consistent with the terms outlined in Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act–the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act–and OSCE mandates. Further–the Administration should strictly enforce Section 907. Clearly–the FY ’98 foreign operations conference report language that seeks to satisfy the oil interests contradicts the intent of the law. The fact of the matter is that–through extensive debate–Congress upheld the integrity of Section 907–as should the Administration. Anything short of fully implementing this law would be illegal and detrimental to the cause of peace in the region. 4. Delivery of humanitarian And development aid To Nagorno-Karabakh

The United States should begin immediate delivery of congressionally appropriated humanitarian aid to Nagorno-Karabakh–and initiate large-scale reconstruction and development programs to help restore areas destroyed by Azerbaijani aggression.

As you recall–we raised these issues with you in our correspondence of July 26–1996–and January 7–1997. In these messages–as in our May 15–1997 meeting with your National Security Advisor–we asked to meet with you personally to address these matters of critical concern to our community. We would like to take this opportunity to respectfully renew this request and to share with you our sincere hope that such a meeting can take place before the prospects for a lasting peace are irreparably harmed.

Sincerely Apostolic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics Armenian Assembly of America Armenian Bar Association Armenian Evangelical World Council Armenian General Benevolent Union Armenian Missionary Association of America Armenian National Committee of America Armenian Relief Society Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church- East Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church- West Knights of Vartan Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church – East Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church – West

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