Caucus Co Chairs Oppose Azeri Effort to Disrupt Karabagh Peace Process

–Urge Secretary Powell to "renounce" and "secure retraction" of proposed UN initiative

WASHINGTON–DC (ANCA)–Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) have urged Secretary of State Colin Powell to take decisive action against a UN resolution–introduced by Azerbaijan–which could seriously undermine the Karabagh peace process.

In a November 7 letter to the Secretary of State–the Caucus Co-Chairs expressed concern about the "ill-advised" resolution on the "situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan," stating–"This intentionally disruptive resolution threatens the principles and procedures of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)–as well as the Minsk group mediation effort–co-chaired by the United States–France–and Russia to resolve the Karabagh conflict."

The letter from the Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs continues–"Efforts to reinforce stability and reduce the risk of conflict are in the best interests of the US and the South Caucasus region. To this end–we urge that the United States forcefully renounce this proposal–secure its retraction–and impress upon the Azeri government that it should drop such counter-productive tactics in favor of a serious and lasting commitment to the OSCE Minsk Group process."

"We want to thank the Co-Chairmen of the Armenian Issues Caucus–Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg–from drawing Secretary Powell’s urgent attention to the threat that Azerbaijan’s efforts at the United Nations to manipulate the Karabagh issue pose to US interests in the stability of the Caucasus region," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We share the concerns they raised in their letter and are also urging the State Department to take decisive action against destructive measures–such as this–that only foster greater divisiveness and set back the cause of peace in this important part of the world."

On October 14–the Azeri Ambassador to the UN Yashar Aliyev–submitted a letter requesting that a resolution–which would restrict the repatriation of Armenia’s to their homes in Karabagh–be included on the UN General Assembly agenda. Prior to its consideration by the international panel–Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) urged US Ambassador to the UN–John Danforth–to oppose the measure–citing the negative ramifications on the Karabagh peace process.

The OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs issued a statement on October 27–noting that "introducing this issue to the United Nations General Assembly may have two negative consequences. In light of the situation we have outlined–this will be detrimental to the efforts to find a just and lasting settlement of the issue–particularly at this time. Secondly–it will fail to achieve consensus–a situation that will not be helpful. We advise avoiding this situation."

Despite these efforts–on October 29–the UN General Assembly voted in support of the request during their regular session.

The complete text of the Knollenberg/Pallone letter to Secretary Powell is provided below:

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are writing to share with you our alarm over the prospect that Azerbaijan’s continued efforts at the United Nations to manipulate the Nagorno Karabagh conflict will–if unchecked–undermine our clearly articulated national interest in the stability of the Caucasus.

We refer–of course–to Azerbaijan’s recent introduction of an ill-advised resolution on the "situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. This intentionally disruptive resolution threatens the principles and procedures of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)–as well as the Minsk group mediation effort–co-chaired by the United States–France and Russia–to resolve the Karabagh conflict.

Azerbaijan’s proposal represents a hostile declaration against the entire peace process–aimed only at fostering increased divisiveness. Its consideration can only set back the cause of peace.

We are deeply concerned that the OSCE Minsk process cannot survive Azerbaijan’s destabilizing tactics. Continued tampering with this process will inevitably produce a chain reaction resulting in its demise. We cannot afford to allow Azerbaijan to continue to disrupt the work of the OSCE–which–as you know–has been recognized by the UN itself as the lead arbiter in this conflict.

We value the vital role the United States plays as an honest broker in the Nagorno Karabagh peace process. In this capacity–given our commitment to keep the parties talking and moving forward–it is necessary for the United States to act forcefully against destabilizing steps that will unravel the peace process. Our interests are best served by the continuation of dialogue on the outstanding issues related to Nagorno Karabagh within the OSCE framework–not by the fragmentation of this orderly process.

Efforts to reinforce stability and reduce the risk of conflict are in the best interests of the US and the South Caucasus region. To this end–we urge that the United States forcefully renounce this proposal–secure its retraction–and impress upon the Azerbaijani government that it should drop such counter-productive tactics in favor of a serious and lasting commitment to the OSCE Minsk Group process.

Thank you for your consideration of our views. We stand ready–of course–to assist you in addressing this matter in the interest of the American people.

Sincerely,

Joe Knollenberg
Frank Pallone–Jr.

Member of Congress

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