WASHINGTON–Former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney–former Assistant Secretaries of Defense Richard Perle and Ashton Carter and Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) teamed up yesterday with a broad range of former Cabinet and Administration officials–former and current US ambassadors and major oil company CEO’s advocating the repeal of the ban on US assistance to the government of Azerbaijan–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
During the day-long conference entitled "Azerbaijan: From Communism to Democracy–Growth with Oil," government and oil industry leaders discussed a range of topics including the political and economic situation in Azerbaijan–foreign investment in Azerbaijan and probable pipeline routes from the Caspian to the western world. The conference was sponsored by the United States – Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce–headed by Amoco Eurasia Petroleum Company Chairman T. Don Stacy and R.V. Investment Group President Reza Vaziri. Its board of trustees includes Richard Perle–a former paid foreign agent for Turkey–former Texas Congressmen Greg Laughlin and Charlie Wilson–as well as the presidents of Occidental Oil and Gas and Chevron Overseas Petroleum–among others.
Throughout the day-long series of lectures and panel discussions–speakers advocated the repeal of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act–which bars US government to government assistance to Azerbaijan until that country ends its aggression and lifts its blockade against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the US Hafez Pashayev called Section 907 "a deliberate affront to our nation," and urged a change in policy. Former Assistant Defense Secretary Ashton Carter argued that "it is inconsistent with a policy of equal and evenhanded relations with all the Caucasus states." Senator Byrd described US policy toward the Caucasus region as "dominated by ethnic and campaign politics," and called for its reform.
"The Armenian-American community remains firmly committed to Section 907 and will oppose efforts to weaken–waive–or eliminate this provision of law," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA. "This restriction continues to represent sound US policy–rooted in America’s traditional commitment to the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts."
"In the final analysis–the decision to lift Section 907 rests in Baku–not Washington. Rather than pressing its oil industry partners to adopt a misguided lobbying campaign against this law–the Azerbaijani government would be better served by simply complying with the terms set forth in the legislation. Once these conditions have been met–the US President can certify this compliance to Congress–opening the door to direct US aid to the Azerbaijani government."
While prohibiting direct aid to the government of Azerbaijan–Section 907 does not impede US government assistance provided through non-governmental and relief organizations. Over the past several years–the United States has sent over $90 million in humanitarian aid for refugees in Azerbaijan through organizations like the International Red Cross and Save the Children. The proposed 1998 US foreign aid budget would provide an additional $30 million in assistance. These US government subsidies are in addition to over $100 million in private corporate donations toward various refugee projects. According to several speakers at the conference–the next airlift of relief supplies funded by private firms is to reach Baku on February 22.
A list of prominent figures advocating the repeal of the ban on US aid to Azerbaijan follows: qRichard Perle–American Enterprise Institute and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy at the US Department of Defense (1981-1987).
Richard Armitage–President of Armitage and Associates L.C. and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (1983-1989).
- John Maresca–former US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and US mediator for conflicts in Nagorno Karabakh and Cyprus.
- Dick Cheney–President and CEO of Halliburton Company–former Secretary of Defense (1989-1993).
- Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV).
- Ilham Aliyev–Vice-President of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan and the son of President Gaidar Aliyev.
- Ashton Carter–Ford Foundation Professor of Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (1993-1996).
- Robert Ebel–Director of Energy and National Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
- Richard Kauzlarich–US Ambassador to Azerbaijan.
- Hafiz Mir Jalal Pashayev–Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the US
- T. Don Stacy–President of Amoco Eurasia Petroleum Company.
- Bill White–Chairman of Frontera Resources and former Deputy Secretary of Energy.