Pallone, Knollenberg, Schiff and Radanovich Congratulate Karabakh Referendum

WASHINGTON–The Co-Chairmen of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), were joined Wednesday by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and George Radanovich (R-CA) in congratulating the citizens of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) on overwhelmingly approving a pro-independence constitution in a popular referendum held on December 10, reported the Armenian National Committee of America. In a December 11th letter to Artsakh President Arkady Ghoukasian, the two Caucus leaders welcomed the adoption of the first-ever constitution as a key milestone in Nagorno Karabakh’s political and democratic progress. They stressed that, "Artsakh’s Constitution embodies your nation’s values to live in a free and fair society, where human rights and economic opportunities are enjoyed by all," adding that "societies that are fundamentally free and fair are most successful, contributing to international security and progress along the way." They closed their letter to the President by reaffirming that they "will remain by your side, as Nagorno Karabakh, Artsakh, continues to pursue its freedom, security and development." Commenting on the referendum, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) stated, "I congratulate the people of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh for reaffirming their commitment to freedom, peace, economic development, and regional stability by democratically adopting a new constitution. By establishing a market economy, holding free and fair elections, and promoting human rights, the people of Nagorno Karabakh have shown that they deserve an independent state free from the oppressive Azerbaijani regime." Rep. Radanovich noted that "The adoption of Nagorno Karabakh’s first ever democratic Constitution is a landmark achievement; advancing democracy breeds a free and open society, while promoting human rights. The adoption of the Constitution proves the desire of the people of Nagorno Karabakh to live in such a free society. I commend this great achievement and pledge my continuing support for the Nagorno Karabakh Republic." In letters sent Tuesday to every member of Congress, the ANCA underscored that "the approval of the Nagorno Karabakh constitution reaffirms its citizens’ collective commitment to freedom and marks a major milestone in this new democracy’s contribution to peace, economic development, and regional stability." Each ANCA letter was accompanied by a three-page briefing document addressing key points concerning Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan, the peace process, and prospects for regional stability. The Nagorno Karabakh Republic Central Electoral Commission has reported, based on preliminary results, that the people of Nagorno Karabakh overwhelmingly approved their first-ever constitution by a majority in excess of 98 percent of those casting ballots. Early estimates point to a voter turnout of over 87 percent of eligible voters. The new constitution affirms that the Nagorno Karabakh Republic is a sovereign state based upon democracy and the rule of law, as well as the protection of human rights and civil liberties. The state’s authority is derived from popular consent, as expressed through elections and referendums, and the governmental system is based on the principle of separation of the executive, legislative and judiciary branches.

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