Washington, D.C. - Three key amendments that hold Azerbaijan and Turkey accountable for launching the war last Fall against Artsakh in violation of existing cease-fire agreements and promises of negotiating a peaceful resolution under the auspices of the OSCE, were submitted for consideration as part of the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (H.R. 4350), reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). The amendments also assess the aforementioned countries' use of prohibited weapons and incendiary munitions during the war. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced an amendment demanding a "report on exports by the Republic of Turkey of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)," from the Department of State and the Department of Defense. The amendment zeroes in on Turkey's sale of Bayraktar TB2 strike drones to Azerbaijan, which were lethally used against the Armenians during the 44-day war. The amendment also calls for an "identification of the destinations of such exports since 2018; a description of any pending sale of unmanned aerial vehicles by the Republic of Turkey; and an assessment of whether Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles contain parts of technology manufactured by U.S. entities or affiliates," and whether UAV exports by Turkey constitute a violation of the Arms Export Control Act, U.S. sanctions policy, or any other law. Chairman Menendez submitted a second amendment to "repeal the waiver authority for the provision of certain assistance to the Government of Azerbaijan" in relation to the President's current authority to annually issue a waiver to cease the enforcement of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, which restricts U.S. non-humanitarian aid to Azerbaijan. Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) also introduced an amendment to H.R. 4350 that calls for the U.S. Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense to submit a report on the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to the relevant congressional defense committees, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; an assessment of the use of incendiary white phosphorus, cluster bombs, and other prohibited munitions in the conflict, including "an assessment of any potential violations of United States or international law related to the use of such munitions." In addition, the Padilla amendment requests a "description of the involvement of foreign actors in the conflict, including a description of the military activities, influence operations, and diplomatic engagement by foreign countries before, during, and after the conflict, and any efforts by parties to the conflict or foreign actors to recruit or employ foreign fighters during the conflict." Assembly Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan welcomed the amendments submitted by Senators Menendez and Padilla and applauded their efforts to "uphold human rights and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions" during the war. "The amendments on Turkey's drone program and enforcing Section 907 are critical to achieving stability in the South Caucasus region," said Khaloyan. "The use of combat drones and prohibited munitions caused enormous human suffering and unprecedented structural devastation in Artsakh, while Azerbaijan’s misuse of past U.S. military assistance allowed the country to exert even more force against the Armenian people. All three of these amendments should be seriously considered by the U.S. Senate, and we urge their adoption."
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.