State Dept. responds to ANCA on Azerbaijani attacks
Published: Wednesday June 20, 2012
Washington - The State Department, once again, failed to properly condemn Azerbaijan's escalating violence against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, in a June 13 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 June 4-6th Azerbaijani attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh 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 full text of Assistant Secretary of State Gordon's June 13th response to the ANCA is provided below. The ANCA's June 4th letter to Secretary Clinton is available here: http://www.anca.org/assets/pdf/misc/060412_ANCA_Clinton_letter.pdf
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)."
To review the recommendations and to urge Congress to take action, visit: http://www.anca.org/action_alerts/action_disp.php?aaid=61443201
Congressional concern over Azerbaijani attacks..
Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Democrat Howard Berman (D-CA) and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) issued strong statements condemning a brazen cross-border Azerbaijani attack against Armenia, waged in the early hours of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to the Caucasus on June 4, which left three Armenian soldiers dead.
In separate statements issued within hours of the Azerbaijani attacks, the Members of Congress urged Secretary Clinton to issue a clear and unequivocal rebuke of Azerbaijani aggression, expressed concern about pending U.S. arms sales to an increasingly violent Aliyev regime, called for the strengthening of Section 907 restrictions on U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan, and offered their condolences to the families of the slain soldiers.
"This latest outrage by Azerbaijan's military makes it even more important that Secretary Clinton condemn these belligerent actions during her visit to Baku later this week," Rep. Schiff explained. "Azerbaijani provocations along the Line of Contact are a direct result of the war mongering rhetoric of the Aliyev regime and they must cease. We should fully apply Section 907 and prohibit the transfer of any arms or dual use items to Azerbaijan."
Rep. Sherman, long a champion of Artsakh's rights, stressed: "I strongly and unequivocally condemn Azerbaijan's recent attack on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border killing three Armenian soldiers. The timing of this brazen attack -- on the same day Secretary of State Clinton visits Armenia -- highlights Baku's utter contempt for its neighbors and its lack of commitment to the peace process between Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan. I call on the Administration not only to publicly condemn the attack but to enforce Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act without exercising its waiver provisions. We cannot provide any type of aid to Azerbaijan as long as Baku blockades Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh and rebukes peace with its neighbors. We must also block the sale of any arms to Azerbaijan, especially as these can be used against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh."
Rep. Berman, an enduring ally of Armenian Americans who first rang alarm bells last week about a pending U.S. sale to Azerbaijan of police surveillance military hardware for helicopter border patrol purposes, noted that he is "deeply disturbed by press reports about a brazen, unwarranted cross-border attack by Azerbaijan that resulted in the tragic deaths of three Armenian soldiers and the wounding of five others. This outrageous action underscores the critical importance of preventing the recently proposed sale of U.S. military equipment to the Government of Azerbaijan - a sale I recently requested Secretary Clinton to halt. Aside from the possible military application of this equipment against Armenia, such a sale would send entirely the wrong message to Azerbaijan, particularly in light of this horrifying incident."
Rep. Pallone was emphatic in noting that "this type of aggression warrants a forceful condemnation of Azerbaijan's actions by the Administration. It is my hope that Secretary of State Clinton, who is currently visiting the Caucasus and will meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on Wednesday, delivers a strong message that the United States will not tolerate this type of violence and will hold Azerbaijan accountable."