WASHINGTON—During a recent Capitol Hill meeting, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) explored concrete steps the United States can take to strengthen official, civic, cultural, educational, and other ties with the Republic of Artsakh.
The Congresswoman, who serves on the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee, is a rising star in the Democratic Party, and she is known for fostering open and democratic debates regarding outdated orthodoxies of the U.S. foreign policy establishment.
“We value the legislative leadership of Congresswoman Gabbard on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in particular her willingness to forcefully challenge morally unsustainable and clearly counterproductive elements of U.S. foreign policy,” remarked ANCA Government Affairs Director Raffi Karakashian. “Her travel to Artsakh—over objections from both Baku and our own State Department—speaks to her independence, her strength, and her character.”
In a meeting with ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian, Congresswoman Gabbard discussed innovative ways to enhance America’s relationship with Artsakh, including on matters related to travel and communication. The ANCA and the Congresswoman also discussed issues related to the OSCE Minsk Group peace process and why it is imperative that the Republic of Artsakh have a seat at the negotiating table. The ANCA raised the State Department’s troubling pattern of discouraging U.S. legislators from visiting Artsakh, stressing that free travel and open dialogue—among both officials and civil society—represent pathways to peace, while also allowing U.S. lawmakers to witness firsthand the benefits of the U.S. aid program to Artsakh.
Commenting on her visit to Artsakh at a San Francisco—Bay Area ANCA gathering earlier this year, Gabbard noted: “It was great to see, everywhere that we went, how focused people are—and they literally are—[and] it’s not a figure of speech to say that—on building a bright future. Literally, that is what is happening, with their hands, and with their feet, and with their hearts.” At that same event, the Congresswoman noted Azerbaijan’s destabilizing role in the region, saying Aliyev’s “continuous acts of aggression along the border have undermined the whole [peace] process and all the work that has gone on for decades to be able to try to reach this agreement.”
Excerpts of Rep. Gabbard’s remarks at the ANCA—San Francisco-sponsored town hall is available at https://youtu.be/RbYfZPenAPs.
Tulsi Gabbard was elected to the Hawaii State Legislature in 2002, when she was just 21 years old, becoming the youngest person elected in the state. A year later, she joined the Hawaii Army National Guard. In 2004, she volunteered to deploy with her fellow soldiers, becoming the first state official in Hawaii to voluntarily step down from public office to serve in a war zone. She served two tours of duty in the Middle East and continues her service as a Major in the Army National Guard. In 2010, Gabbard was elected to the Honolulu City Council, and in 2012 she won a seat in the United States House of Representatives, serving Hawaii’s 2nd District. She is one of the first two female combat veterans to ever serve in the U.S. Congress, and also its first Hindu member.