BAKU: Azerbaijani-American Council Calls US-Based Armenian Organizat

July 27 2009

Azerbaijani-American Council issued a statement on ongoing Nagorno
Karabakh peace process. "On July 17-18, 2009, within the framework
of OSCE Minsk Group, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan held
another round of meetings in Moscow aimed at a peaceful resolution of
the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On this occasion, the two
main Armenian-American organizations issued statements expressing their
concern about the ongoing progress in the internationally-monitored
peace process between the two countries.

In a letter addressed on July 14, 2009 to President Obama, the
Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA),
Mr. Kenneth Khachikian, complained about the allegedly "undue and
unreasonable pressure being applied in a heavily-handed manner
upon Armenia by the [OSCE] Minsk Group Co-Chair countries to force
unilateral and dangerous concessions". Interpreting the 2008 campaign
pledge by President Obama, ANCA Chairman calls for the inclusion
of the so-called "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic" in the process of
negotiations. Furthermore, on July 22, 2009, the Armenian Assembly
of America (AAA) issued a statement also calling for the inclusion
of the so-called "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic" in the negotiations,
again reciting the same campaign comments by President Obama, while
indicating that "the Assembly strongly supports the fundamental rights
of the people of Nagorno Karabakh".

"Back in January, 2008, speaking on the importance of U.S.-Armenia
relations, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged to work
"for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s founding
commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination",
As Azerbaijani-Americans, we can’t agree more with these words
of President Obama. It is concerning, however, that while both
Armenian-American organizations claim to support "the fundamental
rights of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh", they deliberately omit
the ethnic Azerbaijani community, which prior to the conflict in
1988 comprised the third of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh and
99% of the population of 7 other surrounding regions of Azerbaijan,
currently occupied by Armenia as a "buffer zone". From 1991 till 1994,
up to 800,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were subjected to a brutal ethnic
cleansing campaign by Armenian forces and a complete exodus from all
of the above mentioned regions. Hence claiming the rights of only
one ethnic group of a disputed region, third of the population of
which is forced into exile for over 16 years, is actually contrary
to the very core American founding values, quoted by ANCA and AAA
in President Obama’s campaign pledge. Self-determination is not an
internationally accepted term for justifying an ethnic cleansing and a
denial of existence". In this light, "the just cause of the Armenian
people of Nagorno Karabakh", claimed to be pursued by the Armenian
Assembly of America, cannot come at the expense of infringing upon the
human rights and the livelihood of another ethnicity – Azerbaijanis.

For the same reason, the calls by ANCA and AAA for the participation of
the "duly elected representatives" of the so-called "Nagorno-Karabakh
Republic" in the negotiation process, on equal terms with the principal
sides, are counter productive. Reputable international institutions,
such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary
Assembly, the OSCE, not to mention the ethnic Azerbaijani constituents
of Nagorno-Karabakh, unequivocally called the "elections" orchestrated
in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh as well as "the elected officials"
thereof as illegitimate, for a simple reason – no elections can be
recognized legitimate when the third of constituents is stripped of
their right to vote and live solely due to their ethnicity.