Asbarez: Top U.S. Official Calls for International Presence in Artsakh

USAID Administrator Samantha Power speaks to reporters in Yerevan on Sept. 25

Samantha Power, the United States Agency for International Development administrator, said in Yerevan on Monday that there must be international presence in Nagorno-Karabakh to assess whether Azerbaijan is implementing its commitments.

Power said the world must be able to verify and ascertain that Azerbaijan is fulfilling its promise.

“All parties must allow an international humanitarian assessment and humanitarian presence to be there, to see whether Azerbaijan is fulfilling its commitments, and for these organizations to be able to report to the international community,” she added.

Power arrived in Armenia with U.S. Undersecretary of State Yuri Kim on mission on Monday to “deliver a message from President Biden,” she said, adding that she presented a letter from the U.S. President to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan when the two met earlier in the day.

Power said at a press conference that Azerbaijan must always ensure unimpeded passenger transport, commercial and humanitarian shipments along Lachin Corridor. The promises on protecting the population of Nagorno-Karabakh would be void as long as civilians are unable to freely travel and when food and medical supplies can’t reach the settlements.

“And organizations such as the USAID must have access in order to provide essential humanitarian assistance,” Power added.

“We call on Azerbaijan to adhere to the ceasefire and take concrete steps to protect the rights of civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh. President Aliyev has vowed to guarantee the rights of ethnic Armenians, and Azerbaijan must fulfill this promise,” Power told reporters.

Despite statements made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. State Department Acting Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs Yuri Kim that the use of force in Nagorno-Karabakh was unacceptable, that force was used and now the United States is looking at what the appropriate response is, Power said at the press conference at the US Embassy in Yerevan.

“Secretary Blinken said the same thing when military force was undertaken. And we are looking at what the appropriate response is, as Assistant Secretary of State Kim mentioned the review of our security assistance and other forms of assistance, but I would not leap to any conclusions about American foreign policy or reaction to the events that have just transpired,” Power explained.

She said that they are considering a general circle of response to the developments.

“Most importantly, we want the ceasefire to hold, so that people are able to leave Nagorno-Karabakh, if that is their choice, and for their rights and dignity to be ensured,” Power said.
She did not specify what tools the U.S. could use in this context, but underscored that the U.S. has many levers. “Very high-level discussions are taking place in Washington on what would be the appropriate action to take,” Power said.

“We are once again very clearly stating, as it was done in the UN, we support Armenia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and democracy. I can’t say what the consequences of violations in this regard will be. But together we want to emphasize that these are inviolable principles,” Power added.

As for the purpose of her visit, Power clarified that the trip was unplanned, explaining that Biden asked her to visit Armenia and convey his message that the U.S. supports Armenia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and democracy.

“I am in Armenia because President Biden asked me to travel here. This was not a pre-planned trip. This is a trip being taken because President Biden wanted me to come and deliver a message on his behalf to the Prime Minister, which is that the United States supports Armenia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and democracy,” Power said.

“I send my best wishes to you and the people of Armenia as you celebrate your Independence Day. This year, as we mark this proud occasion, we are also mourning the recent loss of life of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. I have asked Samantha Power, a key member of my cabinet, to personally convey to you the strong support of the United States and my Administration for Armenia’s pursuit of a dignified and durable regional peace that maintains your sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and democracy,” Biden said in his letter delivered by Power to Pashinyan on Monday.

“Armenia has demonstrated its commitment to that purpose by engaging in peace talks with Azerbaijan as well as implementing critical economic reforms, improving government accountability, and strengthening democratic institutions. I assure you the United States will continue to stand beside Armenia as you work to strengthen your democracy at home and seek stability in your neighborhood,” Biden added.

“The United States is committed to working with your government on addressing humanitarian needs emerging from the recent violence, which Administrator Power will discuss with you in depth. We will also continue to strengthen our cooperation on energy diversification, resilience and security, as demonstrated by our recent joint military exercises,” the U.S. President said.

“Armenia’s rich history has inspired nations and people everywhere to strive for liberty and justice. And the Armenian-American community continues to be a source of strength in my own country. In the year ahead, I hope to continue to further deepen and strengthen the bonds between our nations – and our people,” Biden said in his letter.