WASHINGTON, DC – 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) today 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, which left three Armenian soldiers dead, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
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.”
Earlier in the day, while the Secretary of State was still in Yerevan, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian dispatched an urgent letter calling on Secretary Clinton to forcefully condemn the fatal Azerbaijani attack, which occurred near the Berdavan and Chinari villages of Tavush. The Armenian Ministry of Defense has confirmed that three Armenian soldiers were killed and another five wounded in the attack.
“Azerbaijan’s aggression, on the very day of your arrival in the Caucasus, represents, in addition, of course, to a painful human tragedy for those young men who were killed and injured, a brazen attack upon the prospects for a fair and lasting peace in this region,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian in his letter to Secretary Clinton. “It is long past time that the Obama Administration abandon its practice of artificial equivalence – a failed policy whose only response to Azerbaijani aggression and threats of renewed war has been to issue generically-formulated and transparently toothless calls on all parties to refrain from violence.”
Click here for the full text of the ANCA letter is provided below and can be viewed at:
Prior to her visit to the region, the ANCA had offered a series of 10 recommendations on how best to enhance U.S. diplomacy in the Caucasus, including a specific call for a clear denunciation of Azerbaijani aggression.
In response to a question from Yerkir Media during a press conference with Armenia Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian, Secretary Clinton refrained from properly condemning Azerbaijan’s attack. She will have an opportunity to revisit the issue in Baku on June 6th.
Following her meetings with civil society leaders, Foreign Minister Nalbandyan, and President Sargsyan, Secretary Clinton departed Yerevan for meetings in Batoumi, Georgia on Tuesday, June 5th.