US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemns Azerbaijani attacks on Armenia

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Armenian National Assembly speaker Alen Simonyan (Nancy Pelosi, September 18)

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned Azerbaijan’s attacks on Armenia during her momentous visit to Yerevan from September 18-19.

“Armenia is of particular importance to us because—the focus on security following the illegal and deadly attacks from Azerbaijan on Armenian territory. We strongly condemn the attacks, we and our delegation, on behalf of the Congress, which threatens prospects for much needed peace,” Pelosi said during a joint press conference with Armenian National Assembly president Alen Simonyan.

In addition to explicitly blaming Azerbaijan for last week’s attacks, Pelosi said that Congress has tried to hold Turkey accountable for the ongoing Artsakh conflict.

“As the United States, which is an OSCE Minsk chair, has made long clear: there can be no military solution,” Pelosi said during the press conference with Simonyan. “I mentioned in our meeting earlier that for a long time, decades in Congress in a bipartisan way, we have tried to hold Turkey responsible as well as Azerbaijan for that conflict.” 

Pelosi reiterated American support for a “negotiated, comprehensive and sustainable settlement” to the Artsakh conflict. 

The House Speaker also referenced “hate crimes against the Armenian community” across the globe and in the United States as well as Azerbaijan’s use of force against “people and holy sites” in Artsakh. 

Pelosi is the highest-ranking US official to visit the Republic of Armenia. The US-based newspaper Politico first announced on September 15 that Pelosi had decided to travel to Armenia in a show of support for the country following Azerbaijan’s large-scale attack between September 13-14. Pelosi confirmed the visit the following day, stating that the decision to take the trip was “rather spontaneous.”

Pelosi said during her visit that the trip had been planned prior to Azerbaijan’s attacks. “But it so happens that we come in time, in-person—strongly condemn Azerbaijan’s recent attacks on Armenia,” Pelosi said while addressing Armenian civil society leaders at the Cafesjian Center for the Arts in Yerevan. 

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets with Armenian civil society leaders (Nancy Pelosi, September 19)

Pelosi led a congressional delegation including co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) and caucus member Anna Eshoo (D-CA).

Members of the delegation referenced Armenia’s close ties with Russia and Armenia’s membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), alluding to the failure of the Russian-led military bloc to provide military support to Armenia following Azerbaijan’s attacks.

“We understand that Armenia is part of this security arrangement with Russia. Now, we’re not suggesting anything about that,” Pallone said during the press conference with the Armenian parliamentary speaker. “We want to do whatever we can to be more supportive of Armenia’s security, and we’re going to work to see what can be done by the United States to help with Armenia’s security, without reference to Russia or the Russian arrangement.”

“Your interrelations with other entities is up to Armenia to decide,” Pelosi said. “It is interesting that they were disappointed that they got fact-finders and not protection from that relationship. We’ll see what happens next.”

Armenia appealed to the CSTO for military support in the hours following the start of the attack, which began shortly after midnight on September 13. The CSTO announced in response that it would send a fact-finding mission to Armenia to “assess the situation” and “prepare a report” that would be presented to CSTO member states later this year. The mission, led by CSTO head Stanislav Zas, arrived in Armenia on Tuesday. 

On September 15, Secretary of Armenian Security Council Armen Grigoryan announced that a ceasefire agreement had been reached “thanks to the involvement of the international community,” which Azerbaijan has not yet acknowledged. Pelosi seemed to confirm that the United States played an instrumental role in pressuring Azerbaijan to cease hostilities, when she stated during her press conference with Simonyan, “The immediate response from the United States was to stop the violence and to have a ceasefire.” 

Pelosi also met with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan. The House Speaker and Defense Minister discussed “a number of issues related to the cooperation of the two countries in the defense sector,” the MoD of Armenia reported, without further elaboration. 

Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Nancy Pelosi, September 18)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan denounced the “groundless and unfair accusations made by N. Pelosi against Azerbaijan” during her visit to Yerevan. 

“N. Pelosi is known as a pro-Armenian politician, and the presence of pro-Armenian members of Congress in her delegation to Armenia is pure evidence of this,” the MoFA said in a written statement. “What N. Pelosi said during her visit to Armenia should be regarded as a statement made on the basis of Armenian propaganda.” 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov seemed to dismiss the impact Pelosi’s visit could have on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. 

“Everything that is not words, but in deeds—and not loudly, not populist, but, quietly and in a businesslike way —can contribute to the normalization of relations, can contribute to the stabilization of the situation on the border,” Peskov told reporters. “All this can be welcomed. Can such high-profile actions and statements contribute to this normalization? Let’s see. Time will tell.”

Last week was the first time in this decades-long conflict that Azerbaijan launched a large-scale attack within the internationally-recognized borders of Armenia. It was the deadliest fighting in the region since the 2020 Artsakh War. 

Armenian authorities report at least 207 killed or missing persons, including three civilians, as well as 293 soldiers and seven civilians wounded and 20 soldiers captured during the two days of fighting. Azerbaijani forces targeted 36 settlements in the Armenian provinces of Gegharkunik, Vayots Dzor and Syunik, destroying 60 homes and damaging more than 130 others. The MoD of Azerbaijan reports 80 deaths, as well as 282 soldiers and two civilians wounded. 

The Armenian casualties include at least four soldiers killed while in Azerbaijani captivity. Graphic footage appearing to show the brutal murder and mutilation of Armenian female soldiers has been circulating on social media. The MoD of Armenia reported that Armenian female soldiers Susanna Grigoryan, Anush Apetyan, Alisa Melkonyan and Irina Gasparyan were killed during last week’s attacks. 

Armenian authorities say that Azerbaijan launched its latest attacks in order to coerce Armenia to accept its demands within the ongoing negotiation process. Those demands include a peace agreement that would recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the creation of the so-called “Zangezur corridor,” a route without passport or customs controls passing through Armenia connecting Azerbaijan to its exclave Nakhichevan. While Armenian authorities have said that they are prepared to recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, they have added that any peace agreement must address the status of Artsakh and the security of its Armenian population, issues that Azerbaijan has reportedly refused to discuss. 

“Having adopted the agenda of establishing peace and opening regional communications, the Republic of Armenia considers unacceptable the policy of threat and coercion conducted by Azerbaijan,” the Armenian Security Council said in a September 19 statement. 

On September 16, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev reiterated the demands for a swiftly negotiated peace treaty and the “Zangezur corridor.” 

“Now we need, without preconditions and artificial delays, to start the work on the draft peace treaty,” Aliyev said.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hetq and the Daily Californian. She is pursuing master’s degrees in journalism and Near Eastern Studies at New York University. A human rights journalist and feminist poet, Lillian's first poetry collection Journey to Tatev was released with Girls on Key Press in spring of 2021.
Lillian Avedian

@LillianAvedian

Graduate student @GloJo_NYU and @nyukevo. Staff writer @armenianweekly. Editorial intern @DAWN_Journal.
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9 Comments

  1. “… the United States has made long clear: there can be no military solution”. Really? And where was the United States during the 2020 war unleashed by Azerbaijan and Turkey? Not a single word came out of the U.S. officials’ mouths condemning the all-out military action.

    • Not just the United States but also France and Russia, as members of OSCE Minsk Group, had repeatedly made the same declarations and they too did not lift a finger to help us. None of them condemned the undeclared and terroristic war unleashed on the Armenians by criminal Turkey and Azerbaijan either. So the question is why did we believe in what they said and why did we put our trust in their empty words and not get prepared for all possibilities given our present and past familiarity with the nature of our enemies? Was there any legally-binding treaty between us and the enemy and entrusted in OSCE member states, while the ‘peace’ negotiations between the two sides were ongoing, that could prevent or punish our enemy for breaching such treaty? No there was not. The enemy constantly barked that they are spending more than the entire Armenia’s annul state budget on armaments, most purchases made from our Russian ally by the way, and that they will wage war on us if negotiations failed or did not produce the result that they envisioned and demanded. Did we do anything to counter that and to prevent and neutralize such possible enemy aggression? No we did not. Who was our supposed military ally who should have made it crystal clear to our enemy that they won’t allow any aggression, United States, France or Russia? Russia of course yet we give Russia a pass but we blame others. Who was it that, after nearly a hundred years of absence, turned a blind eye and allowed NATO member terrorist Turkey to show her ugly face in Russia’s supposed ally Armenia’s backyard conducting joint military exercises with our enemy practically a stone-throw away from the Armenian capital? Not United States or France but Russia of course because that was neither United States’ nor France’s backyard but Russia’s. Didn’t hypocritical Russia go to war with Ukraine destroying it under the suspicion that they may want to join the NATO alliance while not showing any concern whatsoever to another NATO member state, terrorist Turkey that is, for moving into her backyard militarily? Why this double standard? What was in it for Russia to act so indifferently towards terrorist Turkish bold moves in Russia’s backyard when not so long ago, during Soviet times, that would be considered an act of war? What did our leaders do while all these things were going on? They did absolutely nothing to deter our enemy from even dreaming about taking such actions. What did they do instead? They fell into a trap by relying on empty promises made by OSCE member states and went on robbing the country and enriching themselves instead of acting responsibly investing in and working towards securing our borders and liberated territories by modernizing the army with state-of-the-art military technology. These were men who a quarter century earlier had participated in liberation movements and had led our nation to countless victories. They knew our enemy and were aware of their intentions intimately. They knew very well, regardless of what anyone says or even promises, that it is their responsibility to prepare for war if they wanted peace with this enemy. That the only way to maintain peace in the region was to mobilize and dictate peace to the enemy. But they did not and here we are blaming everyone else but ourselves. We need to stop thinking that a third-party will come to our aid in times of need because they will not. They all have their own self-interests and act accordingly. Some will use and abuse us and we must be smart enough to turn that around in our favor. We must be self-reliant so we won’t need anyone’s help. Those who help themselves will always get help from others. Those who rely on others for help will always be pitied, ignored and exploited!

  2. I don’t mean to defend the United States or any other country for that matter because every country has its own national interests that may or may not overlap with ours but let’s be realistic here. In 2020 Trump was president and not Biden and Trump’s policy was ‘America First’ a sort of isolationist foreign policy that avoided political or economic entanglements with other countries. Besides, this is Russia’s backyard and we all know too well how Russia reacts to ‘foreign’ intervention in her backyard. Russia does not help Armenia but at the same time does not allow help from western countries without severe consequences. What’s happening in Ukraine is a prime example of that. If Russia as a supposed Armenian military ally would maintain a balance of power in the region so Armenia can stand on her own and defend herself is one thing but it does not do so and it seems Russia is holding Armenia hostage. Armenia is not free to do as Armenia wishes as long as Russia has a military presence in Armenia and Armenia is a member of the Russian-led CSTO with a bunch of Central Asian totalitarian states who have closer relations with our enemies that they do with their fellow member state Armenia. I have no doubt the United States and other western countries have offered to help Armenia but Armenian leaders have turned them down for obvious reasons. As an ally, Russia either has to commit to helping Armenia against all enemy threat or stay out of the way and allow Armenia to do what it needs to do to defend herself and that includes having military alliances with countries that Russia considers undesirables. Russia can’t have it both ways and that is to conduct foreign policy with our enemies at Armenia’s expense on the one hand and stifle Armenia when Armenia looks elsewhere for help on the other!

  3. Why are we so excited about the trip to Armenia of a congresswoman who is on her way out after November? Congress does not make foreign policy for the United States. It is sleepy Joe who is in charge of foreign policy, and he just ignored the pleas from ANC to stop aid to Azerbaijan. ANC better start working with Kevin McCarthy,because good old Nancy will soon be a relic of the past!So goes for Spier and that other moocher Eshoo.

  4. Panic is being spread by both sides for different reasons. By Nikol to convince the sheeple that we need to give Turks a corridor and it’s all Russia’s fault and by the opposition to convince the sheeple that Nikol is deliberately destroying Armenia…

  5. At the end of the war in 2020, Nikol promised to abandon Artsakh, recognize Azerbaijan’s borders and give Azeris/Turks a route in Zangezur that Turks call, an exclusive “corridor” and Russians call, a “trade route” under Armenian/Russian control. Nikol later realized that when he does all this he will be ousted. He is therefore tyring to save his skin. Hence, the delays, the temper-tantrums, the running around the world looking for saviors…
    For their part, Turks and Azeris are putting pressure on Nikol to make him deliver what he promised back in 2020. This is one of the reasons why (the other being Ukraine) the CSTO was in no mood to immediately jump to Nikol’s western financed regime’s defense…
    Put aside everything you are seeing/hearing in the media. Panic is being spread by both sides for different reasons. By Nikol, to convince the sheeple that we need to give Turks a corridor and it’s all Russia’s fault. By the opposition, to convince the sheeple that Nikol is deliberately destroying Armenia. What I just outlined above is what is happening…

    Think: why would the CSTO send forces to fight Azerbaijan (a country they want within their ranks) when Nikol’s regime has NOT mobilized Armenia’s armed forces; has NOT announced a state of emergency in the country; and has publicly stated that the fighting is simply a border skirmish and that their main goal is peace with Baku and Ankara…

    Think: Why would Russia send forces to fight Azerbaijan (a country they want within their orbit) and Turkey (a major NATO power), when they are in a major war in eastern Europe, and if that is exactly what Anglo-American-Jews are trying to have them do – with the help of Nikol’s regime nonetheless…

  6. At the end of the war in 2020, Nikol promised to abandon Artsakh, recognize Azerbaijan’s borders and give Azeris/Turks a route in Zangezur that Turks call, an exclusive “corridor” and Russians call, a “trade route” under Armenian/Russian control. Nikol later realized that when he does all this he will be ousted. He is therefore tyring to save his skin. Hence, the delays, the temper-tantrums, the running around the world looking for saviors…

    For their part, Turks and Azeris are putting pressure on Nikol to make him deliver what he promised back in 2020. This is one of the reasons why (the other being Ukraine) the CSTO was in no mood to immediately jump to Nikol’s western financed regime’s defense…

    So, put aside everything you are seeing/hearing in the media. Panic is being spread by both sides for different reasons. By Nikol, to convince the sheeple that we need to give Turks a corridor and it’s all Russia’s fault. By the opposition, to convince the sheeple that Nikol is deliberately destroying Armenia. What I just outlined above is what is happening…

    Think: why would the CSTO send forces to fight Azerbaijan (a country they want within their ranks) when Nikol’s regime has NOT mobilized Armenia’s armed forces; has NOT announced a state of emergency in the country; and has publicly stated that the fighting is simply a border skirmish and that their main goal is peace with Baku and Ankara…

    Think: Why would Russia send forces to fight Azerbaijan (a country they want within their orbit) and Turkey (a major NATO power), when they are in a major war in eastern Europe, and if that is exactly what Anglo-American-Jews are trying to have them do – with the help of Nikol’s regime nonetheless…

    We are where we are because of Armenian incompetence and political illiteracy. Period. None of this would have happened had we entered into a union with the Russian Federation. But no, a tiny, a landlocked and impoverished nation, one that is almost totally dependent on Russia for survival and is surrounded with enemies, wanted to play “complimentary politics” and allow its backward citizenry to “democratically elect” their leader. Brilliant. Well, now enjoy the show…

  7. Pelosi is also close to the Azeri lobby in Washington. All she has done for Armenia is lip service. Her visit to Armenia was primarily meant to further sour Yerevan’s strategic ties to Moscow and Tehran. Armenians are being led to another slaughter. Armenians need to wake the hell up.

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