Washington, DC – In response to Azerbaijan’s military strikes and invasion of Armenia, over two dozen members of Congress have issued statements condemning Azerbaijan and showing solidarity and support for Armenia, which continues to withstand a barrage of airstrikes, drone strikes, mortar fire and traditional Azeri forces that breached the border in a major assault beginning in the early morning hours of Monday, September 12. Azerbaijan launched a military offensive at several Armenian positions along nearly the entire 1,000 km stretch of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, striking the Armenian border towns of Goris, Jermuk, Vardenis and Sotk, as well as the towns of Karmir Shuka and Taghavard in Nagorno-Karabakh.
In addition to the outpouring of support for Armenia from U.S. elected officials on social media, House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), along with the rest of co-chairs of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and David Valadao (R-CA), introduced a non-binding resolution, H.Res. 1351, in Congress last week “condemning Azerbaijan’s unprovoked military attack on Armenia.” The resolution has 43 cosponsors and has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
In March 2021, Congressman Schiff introduced resolution H. Res. 240, “calling on Azerbaijan to immediately release all prisoners of war and captured civilians.” Azerbaijan is illegally holding captive over 100 Armenian service members as ‘prisoners of war’ after the Second Nagorno Karabakh War in 2020. Following Azerbaijan’s latest military assault on Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh last week, four more members of congress cosponsored H. Res. 240, bringing the total number of cosponsors to 75. Like H. Res. 1351, H. Res. 240 is also pending consideration by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), himself a member of the Armenian Caucus, has not indicated whether he plans to move either resolution and has not commented on Azerbaijan’s invasion of Armenia.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed his deep concern for what he called “unprovoked Azerbaijani attacks against Armenia,” while Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), have both unequivocally called for the immediate suspension of all U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan.
“We commend Leader Schumer, Chairman Menendez, Chairman Rubio, and Chairman Schiff, and the Armenian Caucus leadership, for being pillars of truth in Congress when it comes to Azerbaijan’s crimes against Armenia and crimes against humanity,”stated ACA Board Chairman Sevak Khatchadorian. “In the absence of White House actions, we urge Congress to take meaningful action in the coming days,” Khatchadorian said, as Congress considers finalizing the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
On Thursday, September 15, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that she would be traveling to Armenia on September 17-18, as a strong show of support from the Congressional leader. Pelosi was accompanied by Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) as well as Congress’ two Armenian-American lawmakers Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA). This was Speaker Pelosi’s third foreign visit to a conflict zone, following her visits to Ukraine and Taiwan earlier this year.
During the trip, the Members met with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Minister of Defense Suren Papikyan, and Parliament Speaker Alen Simonyan. The Members also visited the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex in Yerevan. “I was proud to join Speaker Pelosi and my colleagues in representing the United States Congress in Armenia at a critical moment in the Republic’s history. This was the most valuable trip I have ever made to Armenia,” stated Rep. Pallone, who co-founded the Armenian Caucus in 1995 and has taken over a dozen trips to Armenia over the years. “We are very concerned about Armenia’s security and want to do whatever we can to be more supportive of its defense against any future threat from Azerbaijan. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, I will continue to help bolster Armenia’s democracy, hold Aliyev accountable for his hostility toward Armenia and push for a closer relationship between our countries. There is only one aggressor in this conflict, and Azerbaijan must end its attacks on Armenian and remove its troops from all Armenian territory.”
“U.S. support for Armenia is needed now more than ever and the Armenian Council of America is very grateful to know that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stands strong with Armenia as it faces another genocidal assault from Baku,” stated Khatchadorian. “We have long known Speaker Pelosi to be not just a friend and ally, but a courageous leader who knows how to stand up for what is right in this world. We urge the White House to show similar courage, stand up to the terrorist Aliyev, and immediately enforce Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act to hold Azerbaijan at least somewhat accountable for their crimes,” Khatchadorian said.
As a grassroots organization, ACA is dedicated to working with all political leaders, offering Armenian related news, analysis and resources for policymakers, media, students and activists, advocating issues important to Armenian Americans. The ACA also aims to strengthen U.S. – Armenia and U.S. – Artsakh ties, the development of programs promoting sustainable economic growth and good governance in Armenia, while promoting the values and responsibilities of global citizenship. For more information please visit https://www.armeniancouncil.org/ACA/