Pallone Says Aliyev’s Willingness To Resort To Force Is Reason Enoug


Jennifer Karch Cannata
Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr.
420 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-4671 office
(202) 225-9665 fax

May 21, 2004


Washington, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), cochairman
of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, today expressed
concern regarding Azeri President Ilham Aliyev’s recent statements
that Azerbaijan is willing to use military force to resolve the
Nagorno Karabagh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“Such statements are unsettling and send a message to Armenia, as well
as to all those involved in working toward a peaceful resolution, that
Azerbaijan is prepared to undertake a military approach to addressing
the conflict should recommendations by the Minsk Group not align with
Azerbaijan’s position,” the New Jersey congressman said earlier this
week during a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

During an interview with the BBC last week, President Aliyev said
that while he would continue to try to resolve the Nagorno Karabagh
conflict by peaceful means, the Azeri army is able at any moment
to free, what President Aliyev called, “our territory.” President
Aliyev also stated, “We have every right to do that, to restore our
territorial integrity.”

“President Aliyev’s actions and statements do not signal a willingness
to negotiate and in fact, I think they illustrate the opposite,”
Pallone said. “If there is any chance that the parties can move
in the direction of a peaceful resolve, President Aliyev must show
that he is willing to consider options developed by the Minsk Group
without threatening military actions.”

During the speech, Pallone also called on President Bush and Congress
to not support a military resolution to the Nagorno Karabagh conflict
and to restore military aid parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“I strongly believe we must do everything in our power here in Congress
to signal that we will not support the use of military power to address
this conflict,” Pallone continued in his speech on the House floor.
“Amid rising tension and animosity in the region, with two new leaders
in both Armenia and Azerbaijan, it is more important today than ever
for the United States to be sure that no signal is sent suggesting
that one side is being provided a military advantage over the other.”

Pallone cited President Aliyev’s statement during the BBC interview
that the Azeri government’s military spending has increased over the
last couple of years and “will keep increasing in the future.”

“At this time, the U.S. should not be providing resources to
Azerbaijan that can, in any measure, be turned into military
efforts against Armenia to reclaim Nagorno Karabagh,” Pallone said.
“President Aliyev’s comment regarding current and future increases in
Azerbaijan’s military funding does not put me at ease that funding
from the U.S., either directly or indirectly, will not be used to
unleash a military campaign against the people of Nagorno Karabagh,”

Earlier this year, President Bush’s budget proposal included
unequal military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan. This request
dismissed a unilateral policy agreement between the Congress and
the Administration that there be military parity between Armenia and
Azerbaijan. However, language included in the waiver states that any
assistance to Azerbaijan should not be used to “undermine or hamper”
the Karabagh peace process or “be used for offensive purposes against
Armenia or the Armenian communities in the South Caucuses.”