‘What better meeting place to celebrate Nagorno-Karabagh’s commitment to freedom and democracy than the United States’ Capitol, which, like Stepanakert, stands as a symbol of independence and self-determination’ —Senator Mark Kirk
WASHINGTON—Senate Appropriations Committee Member Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) warmly welcomed Armenian Americans to Congress last week for the annual Capitol Hill celebration of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic’s (NKR/Artsakh) commitment to peace and freedom, meeting both with top Karabagh officials and his own Illinois constituents who traveled to Washington for the program, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“What better meeting place to celebrate Nagorno-Karabagh’s commitment to freedom and democracy than the United States’ Capitol, which, like Stepanakert, stands as a symbol of independence and self-determination,” wrote Kirk, in a personal message to all those who gathered for the annual Armenian Caucus celebration, held on Dec. 9.
Kirk used the opportunity to spotlight Azerbaijan’s escalating aggression against Armenia and Artsakh, stating, “As you know all too well, the people of Nagorno-Karabagh do not currently enjoy the same feeling of peace and security in their capitol, as we do here in the United States. The Karabagh Armenians are faced with a daily struggle to protect themselves from the dangerous aggression of their neighbor, Azerbaijan.”
Kirk praised the leadership of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and more than 80 of their congressional colleagues in advancing concrete steps to bring about regional peace, including the withdrawal of snipers from the Line of Contact, the deployment of additional Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitors and the placement of gunfire locators to clearly identify the origination of each cross-border attack. “Both Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh have expressed support for these pro-peace initiatives. Azerbaijan has not,” pointed out the Senator.
Earlier in the day, Kirk met with NKR Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan and NKR Representative in the U.S. Robert Avetisyan, as well as ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian, Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian, and Illinois constituent Haik Ter-Nersesyan to discuss Karabagh’s democratic and economic progress in the face of Azerbaijani aggression. Talks also focused on expanding U.S. assistance to Karabagh to build on the ongoing demining efforts and meet increasing humanitarian needs.
“We deeply value Senator Kirk’s principled support for peace and his determined defense of the right of the people of the independent Republic of Nagorno-Karabagh to security and democratic self-determination,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian, an Illinois constituent. “We look forward to working with Senator Kirk to ensure that the Royce-Engel peace proposals are implemented at the very first opportunity.”
Senator Kirk’s letter is available at: http://anca.org/assets/graphics/2015/SenKirk_NKPeace_120915.pdf.
The Royce-Engel letter for Karabagh Peace is available at: https://anca.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Royce_Engel_Karabakh_Peace.pdf.
The Dec. 9 Capitol Hill celebration of Karabagh freedom and stability took place through the leadership of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, Office of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic in the U.S., and Armenian-American organizations, including the Armenian National Committee of America and the Armenian Assembly of America.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Robert Dold (R-Ill.) were joined by House Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Representatives Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), and Dina Titus (D-Nev.), at the observance, with featured keynote remarks by NKR Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan and Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Tigran Sargsyan. His Eminence Vicken Aykazian, legate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Eastern U.S., offered the invocation and convocation at the event.