WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional condemnation of Azerbaijan’s latest attack against Armenia continues to grow as reports emerge from the region of more than 15 casualties during the worst cease-fire violation since the April 2016 Azerbaijani incursion against the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“Azerbaijan is once again attempting to start a war with Armenia,” said Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ). “Azerbaijan’s constant use of caustic rhetoric aimed at Armenia and Artsakh are part of a concerted effort to provoke another conflict.”
Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) shared his support for Armenia’s right to territorial integrity and Artsakh’s calls for self-determination. “I stand with Armenia as they protect their territorial integrity. Azerbaijan and Turkey must respect the Armenian/Azeri border, respect the aspirations of the Armenian people of Nagorno Karabakh, and should deescalate this conflict immediately,” stated Sen. Markey.
Central California Congressman TJ Cox (D-CA) noted, “Azerbaijan’s recent attack on the region of Tavush, Armenia is a violation of the ceasefire agreement between the nations, as well as a result of Azerbaijan’s refusal to allow international monitoring of their borders. The US must take a firm stance in condemning this threat to peace.” Rep. Cox cited his support for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act led by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), which would prohibit funds from being used to send defense articles or services to Azerbaijan.
Senior House Foreign Affairs Committee Member Brad Sherman (D-CA) noted, “I am very concerned by Azerbaijan’s provocations along the #Armenian border. Such actions put the lives of soldiers and civilians at risk. Unfortunately, these actions do not come as a surprise given Azerbaijan’s increasingly bellicose rhetoric towards Armenia & #Artsakh.”
House Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) was the first US House member to condemn Azerbaijan’s attack. “I am very concerned by the recent provocative and destabilizing actions taken by Azerbaijan in recent days along the Armenian border, including the shelling of Armenian soldiers,” stated Rep. Schiff. “These acts risk the lives of soldiers and civilians and raise the danger of a spiraling conflict that could be devastating to the region, particularly in the midst of a global pandemic. These actions must also be viewed in context of Azerbaijan’s consistently bellicose rhetoric towards Armenia and Artsakh, and its refusal to allow international monitoring of their borders. I urge the State Department to make clear to all parties the need for restraint and diplomacy, and reduced tensions,” concluded Rep. Schiff.
“The ANCA welcomes these powerful Congressional condemnations of Azerbaijan’s attack,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, “We thank each of these Senate and House leaders and look forward to supporting legislative opportunities in the coming days and weeks to more forcefully challenge Baku’s escalating aggression.”
The ANCA has issued a nationwide action alert calling on Congress to condemn Azerbaijan’s latest attacks and to support pro-peace initiatives in the region including the enactment of the Royce-Engel proposals (removal of snipers from the line of contact, increased deployment of OSCE monitors and the placement of gunfire-locator mechanisms to identify the aggressors in the conflict). Armenia and Artsakh have both agreed to the Royce-Engel measures; Azerbaijan remains the only obstacle to their implementation. The ANCA alert also calls for continued U.S. aid to the Republic of Artsakh to fund life-saving de-mining programs carried out by The HALO Trust.
Since July 12, Azerbaijan has launched a series of cross-border attacks against Armenia’s northern Tavush region, resulting in 16 casualties to date, including Major Garush Hambardzumyan, Captain Sos Elbakyan and Junior Sergeants Smbat Gabrielyan and Grisha Matevosyan from the Armenian Armed Forces. No Armenian civilian casualties have been reported, but targets have included Tavush Textile—a factory that produces face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing its closure to ensure the safety of its workers.
Just days prior to the attack, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev called ongoing Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group moderated peace talks regarding Artsakh “meaningless” and threatened to resolve the issue militarily. The Azerbaijani government has reportedly been fomenting protests in Baku, where sporadic angry mobs have urged military attacks against Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, and the Republic of Artsakh’s second-largest city, Shushi.