AAA: Arm. Caucus Co-Chairs Call for US Response to Azerbaijan Aggr.

Armenian Assembly of America
122 C Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-638-4904
Email: [email protected]
August 25, 2004
CONTACT: David Zenian
E-mail: [email protected]


Washington, DC — The Armenian Assembly of America commended Congressional
Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairs Reps. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank
Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) for taking a firm stand on repeated and blatant threats
by Azerbaijan against Armenia and raising this “serious issue” with
Secretary of State Collin Powell.

In a joint letter to Powell Friday, with copies sent to National Security
Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Special Coordinator for Eurasia Conflicts
Ambassador Steven Mann, Representatives Knollenberg and Pallone said U.S.
silence in the face of recent remarks by a ranking Azerbaijani official
calling for the occupation of Armenia and “removal of the entire Armenian
population from the Caucasus” should not be “dismissed as mere rhetoric.”

“We applaud Representatives Knollenberg and Pallone for their forthright
stand on this highly dangerous and potentially explosive Azerbaijani policy.
Both Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh have on more than one occasion extended an
olive branch only to be met with Azerbaijan’s war-mongering policies,”
Assembly Board of Trustees Chairman Hirair Hovnanian said.

“We share Representative Knollenberg’s and Pallone’s view that Azerbaijan’s
threats against Armenia should be compellingly addressed by the
Administration at the highest levels,” Hovnanian said.

To buttress the Co-Chairs’ concerns, the Armenian Assembly issued and
circulated a detailed and well documented fact sheet to all 435 U.S. House
of Representatives and 100 Senate members spelling out recent remarks by top
Azerbaijani officials hurling “threats, hate-mongering, complaints,
accusations and abuse at the Armenians of Karabakh, Armenia and Armenians
around the world.”

Among the most blatant and belligerent were remarks by Azerbaijani President
Ilham Aliyev, Defense Minister Gen. Safar Abiyev, Defense Ministry Spokesman
Col. Ramiz Melkov, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the Council of Europe Agshin
Mekhtiyev, President Aliyev’s National Security Advisor Vafa Gulizade and

In their letter to Secretary Powell, the Co-Chairs of the Congressional
Caucus on Armenian Issues said failure to “forcefully and publicly confront
the Azerbaijani government over these destabilizing threats would, in our
view, send extremely dangerous signals” to the government in Baku.

The letter went on to reiterate that Azerbaijan’s threats against Armenia’s
survival will only “reinforce our commitment to maintaining parity in U.S.
military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

Addressing Secretary Powell, Representatives Knollenberg and Pallone said:

“As Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, we would like
to raise with you a serious issue that, if not compellingly addressed by the
Administration, has the potential to undermine U.S. interests and American
values in the strategically important Caucasus region.

We refer to the remarks by officials in the government of President Ilham
Aliyev calling into question the very existence of Armenia. For example, as
reported by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Azerbaijani Defense
Ministry spokesman called for Azerbaijan’s takeover of the entire territory
of Armenia and removal of the entire Armenian population from the Caucasus.
He went so far as to say, “Within the next 25 years there will exist no
state of Armenia in the South Caucasus.” Given Azerbaijan’s history of
aggression against Armenians, these remarks cannot be dismissed as mere

Azerbaijan’s threats against Armenia’s survival reinforce our commitment to
maintaining parity in U.S. military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan. This
arrangement means even more today than when it was first put in place,
particularly in light of Baku’s increasingly aggressive posture toward
Armenia. Any tilt in military spending toward Azerbaijan could, in our
view, destabilize the region by emboldening the new Azerbaijani leadership
to continue their threats to impose a military solution of the Nagorno
Karabakh conflict.

The United States plays a crucial role in the negotiations over Nagorno
Karabakh, to help the people of this region to find a lasting and equitable
peace. These threats by Azerbaijan undermine these efforts and seriously
complicate our diplomacy in the region. A failure on our part to forcefully
and publicly confront the Azerbaijani government over these destabilizing
threats would, in our view, send extremely dangerous signals to Azerbaijan.

It is our hope that the United States takes action to condemn these remarks,
to ensure that all parties involved in this conflict make a genuine
commitment towards peace and stability.”

Following is the text of the Assembly Fact Sheet which was sent to all
members of the Senate and Congress:

“In the years since the outbreak of the Karabakh conflict in the 1980s, the
Azerbaijani government and entities sponsored by it have hurled a litany of
threats, hate-mongering, complaints, accusations and abuse at the Armenians
of Karabakh, Armenia and Armenians around the world. Such rhetoric continued
unabated despite the establishment of a cease-fire in Karabakh in May 1994
and the ongoing peace process, and has intensified in recent years.
Egregious examples of this rhetoric follow:

* President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly told his nation that Azerbaijan
could launch a new war in Karabakh: “At any moment we must be able to
liberate our territories by military means. To achieve this we have
everything.” Aliyev predicts that Azerbaijan will soon become an
economically strong state, while its military “superiority” will increase
further. “Under these circumstances we cannot react positively to those
calling us to compromise.” (Source: Zerkalo 7/23/04) Azerbaijan has been
increasing its military spending to more than $217 million (Source: IISS
Military Balance) and buying more tanks, artillery and aircraft (Source: UN
Directory of Conventional Arms). Aliyev warned that unless Armenians
capitulate “we will all smash the heads of the Armenians.” (Source: Turan
via BBC Monitoring 10/27/00)
* Azerbaijani Defense Minister Gen. Safar Abiyev says that occasional
violations of the 1994 cease-fire are “natural” since Azerbaijan is still
“at war.” (Source: Sarg via BBC Monitoring 8/14/03) Abiyev makes claims on
Armenia’s territory: “Armenia must always remember that what Azerbaijan
accepted yesterday will not be accepted today and tomorrow. Azerbaijan will
not want to have a separated state – meaning Nakhichevan, cut from the
mainland Azerbaijan. This issue will be raised tomorrow.” (Source: Ekho
5/16/03). Asked if the Azeri army is ready “to go to Yerevan,” Abiyev
answers: “We can go even farther.” (Source: ANS via BBC Monitoring 3/22/02)
Abiyev claims that “The Armenian state was created on the occupied Azeri
lands with the area of 29,000 square kilometers.” (Source: 12/7/01)
* The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Ramiz Melikov: “In the
next 25-30 years there will be no Armenian state in the South Caucasus. This
nation has been a nuisance for its neighbors and has no right to live in
this region. Present-day Armenia was built on historical Azerbaijani lands.
I believe that in 25 to 30 years these territories will once again come
under Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction.” (Source: Zerkalo 8/4/04) Following the
brutal murder of an Armenian student of NATO English language courses in
Hungary last February, Melikov qualified the confessed murderer Ramil
Safarov as a “talented and disciplined officer.” Melikov added that, “as an
Azeri, I understand and support Safarov’s actions.” Melikov did not exclude
similar attacks on Armenians in the future. (Source: Regnum 2/25/04)
* Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the Council of Europe Agshin Mekhtiyev warned
of more attacks on individual Armenians, adding that he “would not advise
Armenians to sleep easy in their beds.” (Source: Zerkalo 2/24/04) Parliament
member and former Heydar Aliyev bodyguard Siyavush Novruzov told Terry
Davis, envoy of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, that
“similar incidents” could occur in PACE as well, unless the Karabakh
conflict is settled in Baku’s favor. (Source: Ekho 2/27/04) Azerbaijan’s
Human Rights Ombudsman Elmira Suleimanova said that Safarov should serve as
“an example for Azerbaijani youth.” (Source: Zerkalo 2/28/04)
* The Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security (MNS) has publicly and,
according to media reports, clandestinely sponsored rhetoric and activities
directed against Karabakh peace efforts. In 2004, this successor to the
Soviet-era KGB held a public competition for the “best” films and books
targeting Armenians, with Minister Namik Abbasov giving financial awards of
up to $2,000 to the winners. (Source: 3/26/04) Azeri officials
have condemned Track II peace-building contacts with Armenians, and groups
linked to MNS have attacked Azeri peace activists. (Sources: ANS via BBC
Monitoring 11/3/01, 4/16/02; 525ci Gazet 5/11/02; Zerkalo via BBC Monitoring
4/30/03; IWPR Caucasus Report 5/1/03)

* Heydar Aliyev’s National Security Advisor Vafa Gulizade demanded that
“Armenians should be driven out of Azerbaijan forever.” Unless Azerbaijan
fights and drives all Armenians out, Gulizade believes that “Armenians would
[eventually] buy up real estate in Baku… They will try to take Azerbaijan
into their hands in this way.” (Source: Azadlyq via BBC Monitoring 10/10/01)
“The entire Armenian population of Nagornyy Karabakh should be moved from
there…This problem will not be resolved as long as Armenians are in
Nagornyy Karabakh.” (Source: Yeni Azerbaycan via BBC Monitoring 11/14/01)
“If they want autonomy on our land, let us have autonomy in Zangazur and
Goyca [southern and eastern Armenia] which will enable Azerbaijan to reach
Turkey by land.” (Source: ANS via BBC Monitoring 4/6/02)

* The Azerbaijani Parliament member from ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party Asia
“Our people must repay the debt it owes to [the late President] Heydar
Aliyev and free Karabakh from Armenian occupiers. To achieve this goal we
are ready to follow the example of Chechen patriots and undertake acts of
suicide bombing.” Manafova called on other Parliament members to also become
suicide bombers. (Source: 12/15/03) The pro-government Azerbaijan
News Service (ANS) has been the most active Azeri TV channel opposing any
contacts with Armenians and arguing for war, suggesting, among other things,
to recruit suicide bombers from among thousands of orphaned and homeless
children in Azerbaijan. (Source: ANS via BBC Monitoring 10/13/02).

As one of the leading mediators in the Karabakh peace process and Co-Chair
of the OSCE Minsk Group, as well as a nation with deep bilateral ties with
both Armenia and Azerbaijan, the United States needs to be much more active
in securing an end to such irresponsible and bellicose high-level
Azerbaijani statements. Clearly these officials envision another military
offensive against NKR and Armenia, ethnic cleansing and in the case of Col.
Melikov, Armenia’s demise and genocide against its population. Silence in
the face of such threats only emboldens the would-be aggressors.

The Armenian Assembly is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
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