Rouben Hakobian–a two-term member of the Armenian Parliament and the political representative of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Executive Council in Armenia–concluded a four-day series of high-level meetings on Nagorno-Karabakh and other regional issues Thursday with senior Clinton Administration officials–Members of Congress and leading prominent analysts–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
In each of his meetings–Hakobian stressed that the United States must play a constructive role in the Karabakh peace talks by helping to facilitate direct negotiations between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. He emphasized that solutions imposed by outside parties cannot lead to a lasting settlement and will–in fact–only contribute to continued instability.
Hakobian pointed to the statement last December in Lisbon by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office as an example of a failed effort to circumvent the negotiation process and impose a predetermined solution on the parties.
Throughout his discussions–Hakobian underscored that there is complete unity among all Armenian political forces in support of Nagorno-Karabakh. Hakobian also addressed a number of other regional and domestic issues–and expressed optimism regarding the future of the democratic movement in Armenia.
Among the Administration figures with whom Hakobian met were officials with the National Security Council and Vice-President Al Gore’s office. At the State Department–Hakobian met with a range of senior officials responsible for US policy toward the New Independent States and the Caucasus region.
During a day of visitations on Capitol Hill–which included a special gathering of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues–Hakobian met with–among others–Representatives Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)–Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.)–Steve Rothman (D-NJ)–who serves on the International Relations Committee–and Joseph Knollenberg (R-Mich.)–who serves on the House panel responsible for writing the foreign aid bill.
Hakobian’s briefing to the Armenian Issues Caucus of the US House of Representatives–which was hosted by Caucus Co-chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and John Edward Porter (R-Ill.)–focused primarily on Nagorno-Karabakh and related concerns regarding regional stability. After being introduced by Co-Chair Rep. Pallone–he presented a 20-minute outline of the factors which are currently shaping the region and stressed the need for a negotiated resolution of the Karabakh conflict which fully respects Nagorno-Karabakh’s right to self-determination within defensible borders. Following this briefing–Hakobian fielded questions for more than an hour from Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.)–the only Armenian-American in Congress–Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas.)–and representatives from more than 20 Congressional offices.
Hakobian also held meetings with a number of analysts dealing with the Caucasus region–as well as with leading international affairs think tanks. His visit to Washington is part of an ongoing three week working visit to South America–Canada and the United States during which he will be meeting with a broad range of government officials and speaking to Armenian American community gatherings. Following his Washington visit–he will travel to Detroit–Chicago–Boston–Providence and New York.