Washington briefing: Members of Congress reiterate support for Armenia, Karabakh

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Friday July 24, 2009

Washington - Four key congressional supporters of Armenian-American issues released a joint statement denouncing Azerbaijan's threatening rhetoric and reiterating support for Karabakh peace.

Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D.-N.J.), Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.), Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), and George Radanovich (R.-Calif.) said in a July 23 joint statement that "Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's bellicose statements undermine [the Karabakh peace] process."

Last month Mr. Aliyev boasted that his country had spent $6.5 billion on its military over the last five years, including $2 billion planned for 2009; earlier this month he again threatened military action against Armenia and Karabakh.

"We stand in strong support of the people of Nagorno Karabakh's right to decide their own future," the members of Congress went on to say in their statement. "The citizens of Nagorno Karabakh have remained committed to respecting human rights and democracy and have made significant progress toward peace and prosperity.  No solution is possible without Nagorno Karabakh's consent."

Meanwhile, an Azerbaijani news agency quoted Ambassador Yuri Merzlyakov, the Russian mediator for the Karabakh talks, as saying on July 22 that both he and his U.S. counterpart Matt Bryza are likely to be replaced in the coming months.

Mr. Bryza, who was not available for comment at press time, has been rumored as a potential nominee for U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan.

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