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Use of Force by Azerbaijan Against Armenia is not Acceptable, says Subcommittee Chairman Kean (R-NJ)

(l-r) Rep. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-NJ), Chairman of Europe Subcommittee on House Foreign Affairs, Ranking Member of Europe Subcommittee on House Foreign Affairs, Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA), Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA), and Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)

Washington, D.C. - During today’s hearing on “The Future of Nagorno-Karabakh,” House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe Chairman Tom Kean (R-NJ) made clear that the use of force by Azerbaijan against Armenia is unacceptable,” reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).

In his opening remarks, Chairman Kean stated that “we cannot afford to look away from the region” and made clear that the “use of force against sovereign Armenian territory, including in the Syunik province, will be completely and totally unacceptable.”

Ranking Member Bill Keating (D-MA) echoed the Chairman’s message, stating that “military action is unacceptable”, and also indicated his support for a “safe and dignified return” of the Armenians of Artsakh.

Testifying before the Subcommittee, Department of State Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Europe and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien repeatedly highlighted that the Biden Administration has no intention of waiving Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act for the foreseeable future and that such a decision does not negatively impact U.S. national security.

(l-r) Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)

O’Brien highlighted that the Armenians of Artsakh should have complete access and that the Administration is insisting on the protection of their property and cultural assets as well as a “viable opportunity to return.” With respect to transport links (road and rail) in southern Armenia, O’Brien stated that it should not be created through force. When asked by Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) about the use of sanctions against Azerbaijan if “other methods don’t work,” O’Brien committed to the use of sanctions.

The Assembly has repeatedly called for sanctions to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its genocidal policies, and its testimony today stated that “Azerbaijan should not be rewarded for their continued assault against the Armenian people, but rather sanctioned” and highlighted that the “U.S. has many tools at its disposal to do so from the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and economic sanctions to trade restrictions and the enforcement of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act,” along with the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act.

(l-r) Rep. Keith Self (R-TX), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), The Honorable James O’Brien

Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State, and Dr. Alexander Sokolowski, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Europe and Eurasia U.S. Agency for International Development

Representative Dina Titus (D-NV) raised concerns about Turkey’s role in the region, including the use of Turkish F-16s in the 2020 war, while Representative Mike Lawler (R-NY) highlighted the fallacy of the U.S. providing military assistance to Azerbaijan to counter Russian and Iranian influence while Azerbaijan has significant energy ties to Russia and Iran. Assistant Secretary O’Brien acknowledged that the Administration is aware of the situation which it found not in the U.S. interest.

In his remarks, Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) highlighted his position that “dictators with the rule of gun [should] not prevail over democracies with rule of law.”

Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) expressed concern about Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing of the Armenians of Artsakh and the humanitarian needs arising from it. “It was ethnic cleansing that happened with the removal of these Armenians from their historic homeland in Nagorno-Karabakh... These folks did not want to leave,” stated Rep Costa who also asked about the Administration’s supplemental request and hoped that part of the humanitarian request would include Armenia. Rep. Costa also encouraged congressional visits to Armenia and the assistance of the Administration, to which O’Brien agreed.

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.


NR# 2023-42

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