Pallone Urges Clinton to Call for End of Blockade

WASHINGTON–Congressional Armenian Caucus Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) called on President Clinton this week to urge the Turkish government to lift its six-year blockade and normalize diplomatic relations with Armenia–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

President Clinton is scheduled to meet with the Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit in the White House on September 28th. In a September 3rd letter to President Clinton–Rep. Pallone urged him specifically to raise Turkish-Armenian relations with the Turkish Prime Minister. The New Jersey legislator noted that the two countries "have a long and difficult" history," and yet "Armenia has had a standing offer to normalize relations with Turkey–without preconditions." Citing the continued Turkish blockade of all land routes leading to land-locked Armenia–and its effect on the delivery of US humanitarian assistance–Pallone explained that Turkey’s actions "besides being morally troubling–and contrary to international law–do not serve to further US interests in the region."

Noting the Administration’s stated policy of promoting economic integration and the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the South Caucasus region–Rep. Pallone argued that–"Thus far–Turkey has not played any kind of helpful role in this matter."

Finally–Rep. Pallone pointed out that despite the difficulties between the two countries–Armenia’sent relief supplies and a team of experts to assist victims of the devastating Turkish earthquake this August. There were–he noted–obstacles even before this humanitarian assistance–however–as Turkish Health Minister Osman Dogun initially refused all assistance from Armenia. "Such attitudes do nothing to further the goals of confidence-building and the promotion of a peaceful relations between neighbors in a strategically important region–and–at least at the official level–should be discouraged in every way possible," he concluded.

"We appreciate Congressman Pallone’s leadership on this issue and join with him in calling upon President Clinton to urge Prime Minister Ecevit to lift Turkey’s illegal blockade of Armenia," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "The need to advance US interests and promote American values in the South Caucasus is far too pressing to be held hostage to Turkey’s continued blockades–obstructionism–and aggression toward its neighbors."

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