State Dept. Responds to ANCA Concerns on Azeri Aggression

Philip Gordon

Philip Gordon

Continues Artificial Even-Handedness in Condemning Azerbaijan’s Recent Cease-Fire Violations

WASHINGTON—The State Department, once again, failed to properly condemn Azerbaijan’s escalating violence against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, in a June 13th letter responding to Armenian National Committee of America concerns about Azerbaijan’s recent cross-border attacks.

The response came to a letter from ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian on the Azerbaijani attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh from June 4 to 6 that left eight soldiers dead and more wounded.  Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Phil Gordon, responding for Secretary Clinton, “deeply regret[ed] this senseless loss of life” and went on to note that “the United States has urged the parties to refrain from the use or threat of force.”

“We remain deeply disturbed by the ongoing artificial even-handedness applied to a belligerent Azerbaijani leadership, which has repeatedly shown – through threats and violence – a blatant disregard for international calls for a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian.  “This time it was 8 soldiers who were killed on the front lines – brazenly timed to coincide with Secretary Clinton’s visit to the region.  How many more must die before we hear a clear rebuke from the U.S. and international community of Azerbaijan’s escalating violence and war-rhetoric?”

The complete text of Assistant Secretary of State Gordon’s June 13 response to the ANCA is provided below.  Read the ANCA’s June 4 letter to Secretary Clinton.

Commenting on the ANCA’s concerns about reports of an impending sale of military equipment to Azerbaijan for use on helicopters for border monitoring, Gordon noted “the United States’ security assistance to the region is carefully considered to ensure it does not undermine efforts for a peaceful settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has circulated a set of seven specific policy recommendations for the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress to check Baku’s aggression and support the peaceful and democratic resolution of Azerbaijan’s conflicts with Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh.  Among the recommendations is a call for the Obama Administration to “suspend all military aid to Azerbaijan, and stop the sale or transfer to Baku of any military equipment or dual-use items (including the proposed sale of advanced helicopter-based surveillance equipment – DDTC 12-002).”

Review the recommendations and urge Congress to take action.

Pending Military Hardware Sale to Azerbaijan of Congressional Concern
Azerbaijan’s threats against Armenia and Karabakh and a possible U.S. weapons sale to the Aliyev regime were issues of concern at last week’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing for U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan designate Richard Morningstar.

During his questioning, Senator Robert Menendez cited Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s recent assertion that “Our [Azerbaijan’s] main enemies are Armenians of the world,”  and asked Ambassador-Designate Morningstar “do you think, based upon those types of statements, that the proposed sales of military hardware to be used in conjunction with Azerbaijan’s military helicopter fleet is really in the national interest of the United States?”

Morningstar argued, “There are increasing tensions with respect to other neighbors, in particular with Iran. And we have to provide, I think, security assistance, possibly military assistance in ways that cannot be used to exacerbate any situation with respect to Armenia or Nagorno Karabakh.”  Menendez was quick to respond, reminding Morningstar that “I didn’t hear President Aliyev say ‘My main enemy or security concern is Iran,’ he said that, ‘Our main enemies are the Armenians of the world.’ [. . .] I have a real problem with going ahead and selling military hardware to the Azerbaijanis based upon what has happened.”

Watch Senator Menendez’s exchange with Ambassador Designate Morningstar.

Alarm bells regarding the State Department’s consideration of a sale of helicopter equipment which could be used for cross-border monitoring were first raised in a letter by House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Democrat Howard Berman to Secretary Clinton last month.  In addition to possible attacks against Armenia, Rep. Berman expressed concern about the “message that such a sale would send to the regional parties, both in terms of perceived U.S. even-handedness and in terms of our seriousness about persuading Baku to cease its bellicose rhetoric and agree to Minsk Group co-chair demands that it remove its snipers from the ‘line of contact’ in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.”

Read complete text of Rep. Berman’s letter to the Secretary of State.

Text of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon’s Response to ANCA

Dear Mr. Hachikian:

Thank you for your letter of June 4, 2012, to Secretary Clinton. I am responding on the Secretary’s behalf.

We are following reports regarding the recent incidents along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and deeply regret this senseless loss of life. As Secretary Clinton emphasized during her recent trip to the region, the use of force will not solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The United States has urged the parties to refrain from the use or threat of force, and as Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk-Group, we remain committed to working with the sides to achieve a peaceful settlement. As the next step in the peace process, the Minsk Group Co-Chairs will meet later this month with the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Regarding the other issues that you raised, the United States’ security assistance to the region is carefully considered to ensure it does not undermine efforts for a peaceful settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Department values its ongoing dialogue with the Armenian National Committee of America regarding these issues. If you have any additional concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Philip H. Gordon


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  1. AraK said:

    Once again the State Department is taking us for idiots. It’s time Armenia gave Azeris a good blow once and for all. Everyday we are losing a couple of soldiers and this has to stop. A couple of pipe lines on fire will teach a good lesson to these animals.

  2. Zaven said:

    What the state department clowns will learn soon enough is that their futile policy of artificial even-handedness in response to azeri aggression will only result in both parties eventually dispelling the risk of singular rebuke in favour of consequence free combat.

    I’m glad that the ANCA continues to make life difficult for incompetent fools like gordon and his reckless ilk.

  3. Levon said:

    philip gordon + hilary clinton + barack obama = COWARDLY BACKSTABBERS NOT WORTH OUR TIME.

    Telling the victims of force that, “force will not solve the Nagorno-Karbakh conflict” is disrespectful to grieving Armenian families of this latest azerbaijani aggression.

  4. john m said:

    Armenians in the diaspora whether in the US or Europe should remove their money from banks that do business with Azerbaijan and any mutual funds that also invest in Azeri oil stock. Divestment is a good strategy that many peace groups opposed to Israel’s facist policies towards that Palestinians are doing. We should follow the same example. Secondly, we should ask our Armenian stores to stop selling Turkish food products many of which are contaminated with pesticides and other contaminants.

  5. peter megerdum said:

    The Turks and Azeris gave large campaign contributions (bribes) to the Obama administration and that is why their interests are being met. If we Armenians could provide the Obama adminstration with more money than Turkey had , Obama would pressure the Azeris to stop the snipers. Washington is extremely corrupt and the Citizens United law has made things so much more corrupt. Many foreign countries bribe the US administrations.

  6. Alex Postallian said:

    What did you expect from the state dept,another stooge,from the obummer.

  7. Ray said:

    What a shame us American Armenian need to get more power in the US goverment if we want to have our voice heard end of story!
    As far as our goverment of today needs to know we are over 1 million strong and we will vote you in or out the choice is yours we are gaining power everyday!

  8. Viken Karapetian said:

    The sad truth of the matter is Armenian Americans support the State Dept position. Sound silly? Prove me wrong in November, and make BO a 1-term president. The Armenian community should not reward these clueless socialists.