Armenian Assembly of America
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Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-638-4904
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.armenianassembly.org


PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2006
CONTACT: Karoon Panosyan
E-mail: [email protected]

CAUCUS CO-CHAIRS, MEMBERS URGE PRESIDENT BUSH TO CONDEMN AZERI ACTIONS AGAINST ARMENIA, KARABAKH

President Bush, Azeri President to meet tomorrow

Washington DC - On the eve of President Bush's meeting with Azerbaijani
President Ilham Aliyev, Members of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian
Issues are calling on the U.S. leader to firmly denounce Azerbaijan's
ongoing war mongering, and other actions, against the Republic of
Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.

Caucus Co-Chairs Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ),
along with Caucus Members George Radanovich (R-CA) and Adam Schiff
(D-CA), sent a letter to the President that states in part:

"Azerbaijani government officials have consistently threatened war and
fostered anti-Armenian intolerance. Ignoring international criticism,
President Aliyev has repeatedly declared that Azerbaijan could launch
a new military offensive against Karabakh, and that he is waging a
'cold war' against Armenia where the ongoing negotiations are only a
way to achieve unilateral Armenian concessions." (The complete text
of the congressional letter is attached below.)

"We thank Congressmen Knollenberg, Pallone, Schiff and Radanovich for
expressing their strong concerns regarding Azerbaijan to President
Bush," said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "Rather than
continuing to threaten military aggression and blockade Armenia,
Azerbaijan should instead adhere to the standards of democracy, human
rights, and justice as espoused in our National Security Strategy
which was announced by President Bush last month."

In a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington
today, Aliyev continued making bellicose statements against Armenia,
saying that the "war is not over," and that the "patience of the
Azerbaijani people has limits."

The congressional letter also notes that in the past year, Baku has
increased its military spending by 100 percent and is working with
Turkey to push forth an $800 million railroad proposal aimed at
isolating Armenia from East-West commercial corridors.

The lawmakers also highlight Azerbaijan's continued human rights
violations, specifically a disturbing film which captured Azerbaijani
soldiers destroying historical Armenian monuments in the medieval
cemetery of Julfa, Nakhichevan in Azerbaijan.

The Congressmen also underscored the fact that Azerbaijan's actions
are counterproductive to the stability of the South Caucasus as well
as U.S. objectives in the region.

###

NR#2006-043

Editor's Note: Attached is the full text of the congressional letter
to President Bush.

April 26, 2006

The Honorable George W. Bush President of the United States The White
House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

It is our understanding that you will be meeting with President
of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev later this week. We urge you to take
this opportunity to condemn the Azerbaijani war rhetoric and other
actions taken against the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh
which undermine U.S. objectives in the region.

In the years since the 1994 cease-fire agreement in the Nagorno
Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijani government officials have consistently
threatened war and fostered anti-Armenian intolerance. Ignoring
international criticism, President Aliyev has repeatedly declared that
Azerbaijan could launch a new military offensive against Karabakh,
and that he is waging a "cold war" against Armenia where the ongoing
negotiations are only a way to achieve unilateral Armenian concessions.

As part of this campaign, this year Azerbaijan has increased its
military spending by 100% over the previous year to more than $600
million. It has also tightened the seventeen year economic blockade
against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Moreover, President Aliyev has
indicated he would not engage in any confidence-building measures with
Armenia and he had "no desire" to tone down his country's war-mongering
and anti-Armenian propaganda.

Under the backdrop of the peace talks last December, eyewitnesses
captured on film Azerbaijani soldiers destroying historical Armenian
monuments in the medieval cemetery of Julfa, Nakhichevan of the
Azerbaijan Republic. Condemned by the European Parliament, this
incident is not isolated. A Scottish expert on Armenian architecture,
who traveled through Nakhichevan in the summer of 2005, found that a
number of Armenian monuments that were intact as late as the 1980s
were razed to the ground. Knowingly expunging traces of Armenian
presence also raises serious questions about Azerbaijan's commitment
to engage in the peace process.

We acknowledge and appreciate the assurances of the Administration that
U.S. opposition to such tactics has been officially conveyed. However,
the United States will be unable to advance its policy objectives and
the OSCE Minsk process will achieve nothing if Azerbaijan is allowed
to risk war with impunity. These counterproductive strategies are
undermining the stability of the South Caucasus region.

We urge you to condemn these actions and call upon President Aliyev
and Azerbaijan to desist from making any further threats against its
Christian neighbors Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.

We look forward to working with you on this issue and look forward
to your response.

Sincerely,

Rep. Joe Knollenberg Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr.

Rep. George Radanovich Rep. Adam Schiff