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ANCA Rapid Responder Letter: New ANCA Priorities in 2017

Dear Senator / Representative:

I am writing to encourage you, over the course of the 115th Congress, to advance policy priorities of special concerns to your constituents of Armenian heritage and, more broadly, to all the friends of Armenia living and working in your Congressional District.

As you know, Armenia, the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD, survived the World War I-era Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Turkish government, endured decades of Soviet tyranny and overcame a post-USSR war of aggression waged by Azerbaijan. Through all this, the Armenian people have remained close friends and partners of the United States, a relationship sustained by shared values and strengthened by the active civic participation of more than one million Armenian Americans living across the United States.

These policy priorities are:

Rejecting Turkey’s Armenian Genocide Gag-Rule:

Request: Encourage the new Trump Administration and the U.S. Congress to break with decades of U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, rejecting – once and for all – a foreign government gag-rule that Ankara has for far too long been enforced against America.

Benefits: An honest American reaffirmation of past U.S. recognition, including President Reagan’s historic 1981 proclamation, would 1) Strengthen American credibility as the leader in international genocide prevention, 2) Contribute to Armenia’s security against possible future Turkish aggression, 3) Support reformers in Turkey who are working toward an honest reckoning with their own history and, ultimately, a democratic and tolerant state and society, and; 4) Pave the way for improved Armenian-Turkish relations based upon a just international resolution of this crime.

Supporting a Peaceful Resolution in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh):

Request: Strengthen the 1994 Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) cease-fire by challenging Azerbaijan’s escalation of military aggression and implementing the Royce-Engel proposals: 1) Non-deployment of snipers and heavy arms near line-of-contact; 2) Addition of OSCE observers along the line-of-contact, and; Deployment of gunfire locators along the line-of-contact.

Benefits: A stable cease-fire helps foster a conducive environment for the U.S. policy priority of a peaceful, durable and democratic international settlement of security and status issues related to the Artsakh Republic.

Growing the U.S.-Armenia Economic Relationship:

Request: Work with the new Administration to expand the U.S.-Armenia economic relationship, building upon the 2015 signing of a bilateral U.S.-Armenia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, by advancing: 1) A Tax Treaty eliminating the threat of double taxation of firms operating in both jurisdictions; 2) A new Millennium Challenge Account compact with Armenia that funds STEM education, and; 3) Direct Los Angeles to Yerevan flights, connecting two centers of the Armenian world.

Benefit: Armenia’s Aid-to-Trade transition saves U.S. tax dollars, creating jobs in both countries, reinforcing Armenian independence in the face of pressure from regional powers, and strengthening America’s active engagement and enduring friendship with the Armenian people.

Enabling Armenia’s Aid-to-Trade Transition:

Request: Support FY18/FY19 foreign aid priorities by co-signing the annual Armenian Caucus letter to the leadership of the State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee, including continued aid to Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and direct support to help Armenia settle at-risk refugees from the Middle East.

Benefits: U.S. assistance programs build bridges to the Armenian people, strengthening a century-long friendship based on shared values and common interests. U.S. aid to Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) has provided maternal health care to vulnerable families, provided clean drinking water to countless households, and is currently clearing mines from farmlands and villages, while U.S. aid to Armenia continues to contribute very meaningfully to Armenia’s economic and democratic progress.

Fundamentally Review U.S.-Turkey Relations:

Request: Call for the Administration and Congress to review the state of U.S. military and political relations with the Turkish government, including pending and proposed arms sales and the continued stationing of U.S. and NATO strategic nuclear weapons in Turkey.

Benefits: Congressional oversight can contribute to a long-overdue U.S. reassessment of outdated Cold War-era models of engagement with Turkey, allowing our government to better align our policies and long-term interests in our relations with increasingly undemocratic and unreliable NATO ally.

Thank you for your consideration of my recommendations. I look forward to learning of your actions on these matters, and encourage you to contact Raffi Karakashian raffi@anca.org with any questions or requests for additional information.


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