WASHINGTON–DC–The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has called on President George W. Bush to support Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act and to press Azerbaijan to end its Blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh–opening transportation and communication corridors that may prove critical in the international campaign against terrorism.
The October 1st letter–signed by ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian–comes as Armenian Americans across the country mobilize to stop efforts by Azerbaijani President–former KGB General Heydar Aliyev–to exploit the September 11th terrorist attacks to seek the repeal of Section 907. In recent days–Aliyev has sought to condition Azerbaijan’s support for the war on terrorism on the repeal of this long-standing provision of US law.
First enacted in 1992–Section 907 limits certain types of direct US aid to the government of Azerbaijan until it has lifted its blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. This restriction was reaffirmed in floor votes in the US Senate and House–in 1999 and 1998 respectively.
In the letter–Hachikian mourned the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the US–noting that the Armenian American community is "keenly aware of the consequences of failing to stand up against violence–intolerance and intimidation." He noted that the "failure–based on shortsighted political considerations–to hold the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide accountable paved the way for a century of additional atrocities–including the Holocaust–Cambodia–Rwanda–and the Balkans."
Hachikian went on to urge President Bush to maintain Section 907–which–"has stood as our government’s most powerful instrument to end Azerbaijan’s crippling blockades of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh–which–for all intents and purposes–is the equivalent of economic terrorism." He argued that the current statute "requires that any presidential waiver of Section 907 be supported by your certification assuring Congress that Azerbaijan has indeed taken demonstrable steps to cease all blockades against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Unfortunately–the government of Azerbaijan has given no evidence whatsoever that it is prepared to fulfill this vital condition."
Concerned about the timing of Azerbaijan’s efforts to repeal Section 907–as the United States steps up efforts to eradicate terrorism–Hachikian noted that–"We–as a nation–have a right to expect that all our friends will offer us their unconditional cooperation in this critical effort – as Armenia has done – without trying to bargain for advantage against US law. Indeed–in these circumstances–Azerbaijan must demonstrate that it is a responsible member of the international community by lifting its blockades–consistent with the fundamental premise of Section 907."
Referring to extensive reports of Azerbaijani collaboration with terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden–Hachikian expressed caution about the inclusion of Azerbaijan in the international coalition to battle terrorism. "A better solution would be to ask Azerbaijan to turn over the terrorists to the US–close down their bases of operation–and to end the economic blockade of Armenia," stressed Hachikian.