AAA: Knollenberg, Pallone Call For Action To Stop AzerbaijaniManipul

Armenian Assembly of America
122 C Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-638-4904
Email: [email protected]

November 8, 2004
CONTACT: David Zenian
E-mail: [email protected]


Washington, DC – The Armenian Assembly this week commended Congressional
Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairs Reps. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank
Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) for urging the Bush Administration to prevent Azerbaijan
from manipulating the Nagorno Karabakh peace process though “disruptive”
actions at the United Nations.

The Co-Chairs, in a joint letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell Monday,
said the United States should renounce and secure the retraction of a UN
General Assembly resolution introduced last week by Baku that urges the
removal of Armenians from Nagorno Karabakh – a move that could only derail
the peace process spearheaded by the Organization for Security and
Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Minsk Group co-chaired by the United
States, France and Russia.

Similar warnings and opposition were also voiced by the member states of the
European Union and the Minsk Group, which, in separate statements last week
spoke out against the Baku-introduced UN General Assembly draft resolution
on “The Status of Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan.”

Both the EU and the OSCE Minsk Group agreed that such a resolution will be
detrimental to efforts aimed at finding a lasting settlement to the Nagorno
Karabakh peace process.

The draft resolution was added to the agenda of the 59th session of the UN
General Assembly last week with the support of only 43 of the 191 member
states of the United Nations. Most of the 43 nations, including Turkey, who
voted in favor of considering the resolution, were from the Organization of
Islamic States. The United States, along with 98 other countries, abstained.

The Armenian Assembly, in meetings last week with U.S. officials most
closely involved in the Nagorno Karabakh peace process, urged the government
to publicly oppose Azerbaijan’s attempt to introduce a Nagorno Karabakh
resolution before the UN General Assembly.

“It is long past time for the U.S. to be more forceful with Azerbaijan, to
indicate what is not helpful to a peaceful and just resolution of the
Karabakh conflict and to demonstrate that there are consequences to actions
that frustrate regional peace, security and prosperity,” Assembly Board of
Directors Chairman Anthony Barsamian said.

In their joint letter to Secretary Powell, Reps. Knollenberg and Pallone
said U.S. interests in the Caucasus “are best served by the continuation of
dialogue on the outstanding issues related to Nagorno Karabakh within the
OSCE framework, not by fragmentation of this orderly process.”

The joint letter to Secretary Powell said in full:

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are writing to share with you our alarm over the prospect that
Azerbaijan’s continued efforts at the United Nations to manipulate the
Nagorno Karabakh conflict will, if unchecked, undermine our clearly
articulated national interest in the stability of the Caucasus.

We refer, of course, to Azerbaijan’s recent introduction of an ill-advised
resolution on the “Situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.” 
This intentionally disruptive resolution threatens the principles and
procedures of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
as well as the Minsk Group mediation effort, co-chaired by the United
States, France and Russia, to resolve the Karabakh conflict.  Azerbaijan’s
proposal represents a hostile declaration against the entire peace process,
aimed only at fostering increased divisiveness.  Its consideration can only
set back the cause of peace.

We are deeply concerned that the OSCE Minsk process cannot survive
Azerbaijan’s destabilizing tactics.  Continued tampering with this process
will inevitably produce a chain reaction resulting in its demise.  We cannot
afford to allow Azerbaijan to continue to disrupt the work of the OSCE,
which, as you know, has been recognized by the UN itself as the lead arbiter
in this conflict.

We value the vital role the United States plays as an honest broker in the
Nagorno Karabakh peace process.  In this capacity, given our commitment to
keep the parties talking and moving forward, it is necessary for the United
States to act forcefully against destabilizing steps that will unravel the
peace process.  Our interests are best served by the continuation of
dialogue on the outstanding issues related to Nagorno Karabakh within the
OSCE framework, not by the fragmentation of this orderly process.

Efforts to reinforce stability and reduce the risk of conflict are in the
best interests of the U.S. and the South Caucasus region.  To this end, we
urge that the United States forcefully renounce this proposal, secure its
retraction, and impress upon the Azerbaijani government that it should drop
such counter-productive tactics in favor of a serious and lasting commitment
to the OSCE Minsk Group process.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.  We stand ready, of course,
to assist you in addressing this matter in the interest of the American


Joe Knollenberg                 Frank Pallone, Jr.
Member of Congress              Member of Congress

The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.