Rep. Dave Trott (R-Mich.) Pens Op-ed Urging U.S. to ‘Stand with the Armenian People’
Special for the Armenian Weekly
I have the honor of representing the most ethnically diverse congressional district in Michigan and one of the most diverse districts in the entire country. A prominent presence in our district is the strong and vibrant Armenian community in Southeast Michigan, and, in representing them, I have led Congressional efforts to ensure they always have a seat at the table in our nation’s capital.
During my first term in Congress, I was humbled to have the opportunity to travel to Armenia to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The Centennial remembrance ceremony was a solemn reminder of the heartbreaking deaths of 1.5 million Armenians that began in 1915, when Ottoman authorities initiated a concerted offensive, specifically targeting the Armenian people in an attempt to exterminate them.
In their coordinated campaign, the Ottoman Empire not only intended to wipe out the Armenians, but to also confiscate and destroy their Churches and artifacts—completely removing any memory of the Armenian people and their culture.
Sadly, for far too long, many nations, including the United States, have refused to recognize the genocide waged against the Armenian people over a century ago. It is time for the United States to stand with the Armenian people, here and around the world, and to properly recognize this dark period of history.
This month, I introduced a resolution that finally recognizes these atrocities and urges the United States government to stand in solidarity with the Armenian people to officially recognize the genocide that transpired over a hundred years ago.
I have been outspoken in my support for and solidarity with the Armenian people and I will not waver. While it is so important that we recognize the horrific events of the past, it is even more critical that we recognize the threats against the Armenian people have not subsided.
Today, Armenia finds itself facing a myriad of geopolitical challenges. Sharing a border with Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Iran, its security challenges are exacerbated by an economic blockade from Turkey and Azerbaijan and a region-wide refugee crisis. Furthermore, last April, we witnessed Azerbaijani aggression escalate in Nagorono-Karabagh (Artsakh), which led to the worst violence in the region in decades.
Since my election to Congress in 2015, I have worked alongside Chairman Ed Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and led dozens of other Members of Congress to urge the implementation of a series of proposals that would reduce aggression in the region. These proposals included calling for the removal of snipers, increasing the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitors at the line of contact, and deploying a gunfire locator system to clearly identify aggressors.
While these bipartisan proposals were agreed to by the State Department, Armenia and Artsakh, and the Minsk Group of mediators (France, Russia, and the United States), they have been met with continued provocations by Azerbaijan.
As the new Trump Administration took shape, I was encouraged to hear Secretary of State Tillerson recognize the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict as “a threat to stability in the region and U.S. national security interests,” and I will support any efforts by the Administration to play a larger role in this conflict.
After 8 years of disengagement from the international arena, I look forward to an America that re-establishes its prominence on the world stage, standing up for the world’s most vulnerable, holding Azerbaijan accountable for their aggression in the region, and ensuring religious minorities and their property rights are upheld in Turkey. A dealmaker at heart, I am confident that President Trump and his administration will exhaust all options to get positive results in the region.
As we approach the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, it is long overdue that we not only recognize the violence waged against them in the past, but reaffirm our solidarity with the Armenian people as they continue to defend themselves and their vibrant culture in an increasingly unstable region.