Nearly 80 Members of Congress Urge U.S. President
WASHINGTON, DC – To mark the 15th Anniversary of Artsakh’s Independence, Members of Congress joined the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), in sending a letter to President Bush urging him “to recognize the 15th anniversary of the independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic [Artsakh]” and calling the President’s attention to Artsakh’s “efforts in furthering their democracy and creating an independent state.”
Nagorno Karabakh’s decision to establish a sovereign state came as a continuation of the national liberation movement that began immediately after Joseph Stalin awarded administrative control over Karabakh to Soviet Azerbaijan in 1921. After suffering from over 70 years of discrimination and oppression by Azerbaijan and the Soviet regime, the people of Artsakh stepped up their struggle for freedom and democracy by establishing the independent Nagorno Karabakh Republic, Artsakh.
The congressional letter, signed by 77 members and sent to the White House on September 29, highlights a long history of U.S support to Nagorno Karabakh and the will of the people of Artsakh to build a democratic and economically viable country. The letter also notes the continuation of Azerbaijan’s destructive policy, which threatens peace and stability in the region and “goes against U.S. interests.” Most importantly, the congressional letter advocates for expansion of U.S. political and economic engagement with Nagorno Karabakh.
The letter said in part: “As we work towards peace, the United States can and must expand its engagement with the lawfully and democratically established Nagorno Karabakh Republic. These ties should not be dictated by outside forces but rather should be guided by the shared values of our two nations. […] We should build on this success by investing in developmental and good governance programs that will strengthen Nagorno-Karabakh’s economy, democratic institutions, and promote even greater cooperation on a range of regional and security issues.” (The full text of the letter is provided at the end of the release.)
Despite the overwhelming challenges of the past 15 years, Artsakh has registered impressive achievements: successful defense of its freedom against Azerbaijani military aggression, nearly complete restoration of its war-devastated economy, continued strengthening of its democracy, unprecedented economic growth and constructive partnership with the international community to bring about lasting peace and stability to the South Caucasus.
“Everyday, we are advancing in building a country of our dreams – a free, democratic and prosperous Artsakh. Fifteen years of independent statehood have proved the righteousness of the historic path chosen on September 2, 1991. Throughout these years, the people of Artsakh have been truly blessed to enjoy the political and economic support of the U.S. Congress. We are deeply thankful to the American people for their generous economic assistance that helped restore dozens of war-torn villages, drinking water supplies and medical facilities,” said NKR Representative in the United States Vardan Barseghian.
Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), who co-chairs the Armenian Caucus,
"Time and again, the people of Nagorno Karabakh have demonstrated their firm commitment to values of liberty and peace. They have also worked hard to establish a developing democracy and growing market economy. The United States should expand its political and economic engagement with the Nagorno Karabakh Republic," echoed fellow Armenian Caucus Co-chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ).
Congressmen Knollenberg and Pallone also thanked their colleagues, the co-signers of this congressional letter to President Bush, for supporting this critical initiative. "In its quest for freedom and its efforts to strengthen its democracy and develop its economy, Nagorno Karabakh enjoys a broad-based congressional support. Our collective aim was to convey this message to President Bush as the Nagorno Karabakh Republic celebrates the 15th Anniversary of Independence," the congressmen said.
This congressional effort enjoyed strong support of the two Armenian-American advocacy groups in Washington, DC.
“The Armenian Assembly commends Congressmen Knollenberg and Pallone for their initiative and leadership in urging the U.S. to strengthen relations with Karabakh as it celebrates 15 years of independence,” said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “As we mark this special occasion, we are reminded of the accomplishments the people of Karabakh have already achieved. The Assembly will continue to work with its friends in Congress and the Administration to advocate for Karabakh’s right to self-determination.”
"We want to thank Congressmen Knollenberg and Pallone and all those who joined with the Armenian Caucus in marking this milestone of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s continued contribution to the growth of democracy, economic development, and the prospects for an equitable and lasting peace in the Caucasus," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
On behalf of the NKR Government, Barseghian thanked the Armenian Assembly of America and the Armenian National Committee of America for their effective work on Capitol Hill.
“We are also grateful to our congressional friends for their continued support of Nagorno Karabakh on our path towards freedom, democracy and prosperity – universal values that have been guiding Artsakh since independence,” said Representative Barseghian.
The Office of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the United States is based in Washington, DC and works with the U.S. government, academia and the public representing the official policies and interests of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.
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(The following is the full text of the congressional letter sent to President George W. Bush on September 29, 2006. To request a PDF copy of the congressional letter, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org)
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This material is distributed by the Office of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the USA on behalf of the Government of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. The NKR Office is registered with the U.S. Government under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.