Senior Karabakh Officials Highlight Progress During US Visit and Call for Greater American Engagement

WASHINGTON–Nagorno-Karabakh Parliament Speaker Ashot Ghulian and Foreign Minister Georgi Petrosian have successfully concluded a series of meetings and public engagemen’s during their June 23-30 visit to the US. The visit aimed to rally stronger US support for Karabakh’s democratic and economic development–and to help end Azerbaijan’s aggressive policies toward Nagorno-Karabakh.

While in Washington–Ghulian and Petrosian met with the newly-appointed United States envoy for the Karabakh peace process–Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza–key senate and congressional leaders–policy experts–media representatives and senior staff of Armenian-American advocacy organizations.

In their June 26 meeting with Bryza–Karabakh officials provided an assessment of the most recent developmen’s in the peace process–while highlighting the lawful nature of the establishment of Karabakh and its government’s strong adherence to peace and security in the region. Bryza is expected to tour the region later this month.

Nagorno-Karabakh officials held separate meetings with Senators Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) and Jack Reed (D-RI)–House foreign assistance appropriators Chairman Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY)–and Co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues US Representatives Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.) and Frank Pallone–Jr. (D-NJ). In those meetings–Ghulian and Petrosian highlighted the democratic and economic gains made by Nagorno-Karabakh during 15 years of independence–and called for increased US assistance to help make further progress. They also discussed Azerbaijan’s military build-up and called for the US to undertake the necessary steps to preserve regional stability. Members of the US Congress have pledged their continued attention and support for Nagorno-Karabakh.

On June 28–Speaker Ghulian and Foreign Minister Petrosian also spoke at a US Capitol reception organized in their honor. In addition to the Armenian Caucus Co-chairs–Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)–Edward Royce (R-CA)–Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)–Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and George Radanovich (R-Calif.)–as well as Armenian Ambassador to the US Dr. Tatoul Markarian and Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church–also spoke at the reception attended by congressional staff–journalists and Armenian community members.

Ghulian and Petrosian also addressed a capacity audience at a June 28 public event jointly organized by the US Institute of Peace and Washington-based German Marshall Fund and attended by government officials–policy experts and media.

Nagorno-Karabakh officials discussed Azerbaijan’s continued effort to exclude Nagorno-Karabakh from the peace process and misrepresent the nature of the Karabakh conflict.

Parliament Speaker Ashot Ghulian stressed that "Nagorno-Karabakh’s legal existence is completely in conformance with international law."

Foreign Minister Petrosian noted that "the Karabakh conflict is fundamentally an issue of the right of our people to live free. But Azerbaijan seeks to paint it as an inter-state–ethnic or even a religious conflict. This only helps postpone the conflict’s peaceful resolution…Our main goal is to be able to conduct normal relations and live normal lives and we will defend that right with all possible means."

The officials’ visit to Washington concluded with a reception at the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia hosted by Ambassador Markarian and attended by US and foreign diplomats–members of the Armenian community and others.

Speaking at the reception–Nagorno-Karabakh Parliament Speaker Ghulian stressed that "Nagorno-Karabakh’s determination to remain free and independent is as strong as ever. This visit is just another step towards international recognition of this fact."

As part of their US trip–Karabakh officials also visited New York and Boston–where they met with state officials–media and Armenian community representatives.

At the conclusion of the visit–Nagorno-Karabakh Representative in the US Vardan Barseghian remarked: "It’s time for the US and the international community to recognize Karabakh’s progress in building a free–democratic and economically viable society in the strategic South Caucasus. Karabakh is a serious and reliable partner when it comes to bringing about greater stability–long-term peace–democracy and prosperity to the region."

Barseghian also express his appreciation to Karabakh’s supporters in the United States and those who helped to make this visit a success–in particular Rita Balian–Hirair Hovnanian–Hratch Kaprielian–Raffi Megerian–Carolyn Mugar–Annie Totah–as well as the Armenian Embassy–the Armenian Assembly of America–and the Armenian National Committee of America.

The Office of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the United States is based in Washington and works with the US government–academia and the public representing the official policies and interests of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

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