AUGUSTA, ME – The state of Maine today adopted legislation recognizing the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh and calling upon both the U.S. President and Congress to support the democratic independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, reported the Armenian National Committee of America – Eastern Region.
The Maine resolution was spearheaded by Rep. Scott Hamann, a respected member of the state legislature representing Maine’s 123rd House District, which includes South Portland and Cape Elizabeth. He was joined by Rep. A.M. Gattine (Westbrook) and S. Gideon (Freeport) as lead cosponsors in support of the resolution. Rep. Hamann worked closely with the ANCA of Maine and key community leaders, chief among them Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, a Baku pogroms survivor, lawyer, and noted author of the book “Nowhere: A Story of Exile.” The measure, which was brought to the floor for a vote earlier today and overwhelmingly adopted on a bipartisan basis, makes Maine the third U.S. state to pass legislation recognizing the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.
“I am so proud of my state, the State of Maine, for supporting the right of the free Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh to freedom, democracy and independence through self-determination,” said Astvatsaturian Turcotte. “I hope other states follow their sister states Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine and do the right thing.”
The joint resolution, HP-987, in a series of whereas clauses, sets forth the facts regarding Nagorno Karabakh and its enduring struggle, with the support of the American people, for freedom in the face of both Soviet and, more recently, Azerbaijani intolerance, violence, and outright aggression. The measure, in addition to calling for formal U.S. recognition of Artsakh’s independence, praises Nagorno Karabakh for its “constructive involvement with the international community’s efforts to reach a just and lasting solution to security issues in that strategically important region.”
“We are gratified to see America’s fundamental commitment to freedom reaffirmed today in Maine’s principled stand for the independence of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh,” said Michelle Hagopian, ANCA Eastern Region Executive Director. “The citizens of Maine, like all Americans, cherish liberty, as an inalienable right, not just for ourselves but for all peoples. We thank Anna and all our local activists, and look forward to working with all our community and coalition partners to grow American support for Artsakh’s independence in cities and states across our great nation.”
The resolution passes nearly a year after the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a resolution in May 2012 supporting the Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s efforts to develop as a free and independent nation. Through the diligent efforts of the ANCA of Rhode Island, the state became the first in the nation to urge the president and Congress to recognize the independence of Artsakh. Soon thereafter, the Massachusetts House of Representatives also passed a resolution supporting the self-determination and democratic independence of Nagorno Karabakh.
Since Armenia proclaimed independence in 1991, the ANCA has been at the forefront of defending the right of the people of Artsakh to full independence and freedom within safe borders. In 1988 and 1990, when Azerbaijanis attacked the Armenians of Sumgait and Baku in horrible pogroms, the ANCA demanded that the international community protest this barbaric violation of human rights.
The full text of the Resolution is copied below.
Text of Maine Resolution HP-987
STATE OF MAINE
IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD
TWO THOUSAND AND THIRTEEN
JOINT RESOLUTION MEMORIALIZING THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO SUPPORT THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE NAGORNO-KARABAKH REPUBLIC
WE, your Memorialists, the Members of the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Legislature of the State of Maine now assembled in the First Regular Session, most respectfully present and petition the President of the United States and the United States Congress, as follows:
WHEREAS, Nagorno-Karabakh is a landlocked region in the South Caucasus and has historically been Armenian territory, populated by an overwhelming majority of Armenians, which was severed from Armenia by the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1921 and placed under newly created Soviet Azerbaijani administration; and
WHEREAS, February 20, 1988 marked the beginning of the national liberation movement in Nagorno-Karabakh; and
WHEREAS, the Nagorno-Karabakh democracy movement inspired peoples throughout the Soviet Union to stand up against tyranny and for their rights and freedoms, helping to bring democracy to millions and contributing to world peace; and
WHEREAS, in 1989, the United States Senate expressed support for the legitimate aspirations for freedom of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh; and
WHEREAS, on September 2, 1991, in a popular expression of democracy, the elected legislature of Nagorno-Karabakh declared the creation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, in full compliance with then-existing legislation and international norms; and
WHEREAS, on December 10, 1991, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh voted overwhelmingly in a referendum in favor of the independence of the region and, on January 6, 1992, the democratically elected legislature of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic formally declared independence; and
WHEREAS, Azerbaijan launched a full-scale military aggression to suppress the national liberation movement in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which ended with the signing of a cease-fire in 1994; and
WHEREAS, as one of the mediators, along with Russia and France, the United States has expressed its vision for a stable and peaceful South Caucasus, and direct United States aid to Nagorno-Karabakh represents a vital source of humanitarian relief for post-war reconstruction in the republic; and
WHEREAS, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has built a democratic nation, with a free-market-oriented economy and a vibrant civil society, and has held several presidential and parliamentary elections, all praised by international monitors as free and fair; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED: That We, your Memorialists, encourage and support the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s continuing efforts to develop as a free and independent nation in order to guarantee its citizens those rights inherent in a free and independent society; and be it further
RESOLVED: That We urge and request that the President of the United States and the United States Congress support the self-determination and democratic independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and its constructive involvement with the international community’s efforts to reach a just and lasting solution to security issues in that strategically important region; and be it further
RESOLVED: That suitable copies of this resolution, duly authenticated by the Secretary of State, be transmitted to the Honorable Barack H. Obama, President of the United States, to the President of the United States Senate, to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, to the Honorable Robert Avetisyan, Permanent Representative to the United States of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and to each Member of the Maine Congressional Delegation.
me_legislators_anca.jpg: John Turcotte, Dr. Epiphanes Balian, House rep Drew Gattine (cosponsor), ANCA activist Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, House Rep Scott Hamann (sponsor), House Rep Sara Gideon (cosponsor), ANCA ER Exec. Director Michelle Hagopian, and Paul Proudian.
me_legislature_1000.jpg: A view of the Maine legislature during the Nagorno Karabakh Republic independence vote.
PHOTO CREDIT: Nanore Barsoumian, The Armenian Weekly