07/03/14 - Statement submitted for the Congressional Record on Amb. Tatoul Markarian - Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor and thank Ambassador Tatoul Markarian for his service as the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States.
A distinguished diplomat, the Ambassador has a long career in public service, having represented the people of Armenia both at home and around the world. Prior to his current position, he served as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Special Representative of the President of Armenia for Nagorno Karabakh negotiations and as Ambassador to the Mexican States. Additionally, he served previously from 1994-1999 as the Deputy Chief of Mission for the Armenian Embassy in Washington.
Before entering the Armenian Foreign Service, Ambassador Markarian served in the newly-independent Armenia's legislative and executive branches.
I am proud of the work we have been able to accomplish together while Ambassador Markarian has been stationed in Washington for the last nine years. Together, we have fought together for Congressional Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and foreign aid assistance to both the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Armenia . As the founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, I have had the honor of working closely on these issues for more than twenty years.
Today, the U.S.-Armenian relationship remains critically important. Armenia has been a crucial ally in a strategic region of the world by extending robust support for the U.S.-led peacekeeping deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo. Additionally, they have cooperated with the United States on a broad range of regional and security challenges. This relationship has been stewarded and advanced by Ambassador Markarian during his time in Washington.
Ambassador Markarian has dedicated his life's work to our shared goals and the people of Armenia. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to him for his service here in the United States and offer both him and his family the best of luck as they move forward on to their next diplomatic posting.
03/06/14 - Statement submitted for the Congressional Record on Sumgait - Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the Sumgait pogroms. The Sumgait pogroms consisted of the murder of hundreds of Armenians, making it a particularly atrocious event in a long history of hostility against the Armenian people. I would like to recognize the anniversary of the Sumgait pogroms and remind all of us that it is our duty to act when a people are targeted with violence. Our commitment to remembering this injustice strengthens our determination to obtain peace.
In 1988, hundreds of Armenians were brutally murdered, some of them burned alive and thrown from windows. Women and children were raped and maimed by Azerbaijani rioters. Apartments were robbed, shops demolished, and thousands of people became refugees. Despite Sumgait's proximity to Baku, police turned a blind eye to this dire situation, allowing the pogroms to go on for three days. And since that time, authorities in Azerbaijan have sought to erase all traces of these crimes. Yet, the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus is resolutely committed to ensure that those Armenians who lost their lives are not forgotten.
I ask my colleagues to solemnly condemn all intimidations and acts of aggression against the Armenian people. The Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus will do it?s very best to ensure that basic rights to life, liberty and security are not violated. I also ask my colleagues to join me in calling upon the Azerbaijani government to acknowledge Ramil Safarov as a convicted murderer and immediately take action to bring him to justice for the murder that he committed against an innocent Armenian man.
As co-chair and founder of the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus, I will continue to promote peace and security throughout the Caucasus region. I look forward to the day when the Armenian people never have to fear such attacks.
02/20/14: In a tweet timed with the AYF international effort, Rep. Pallone marked the 10th anniversary of the brutal murder of Armenian Lt. Gurgen Margaryan by Azerbaijani officer Ramil Safarov, stating ?10yrs after he was killed by Azerbaijani Lt. Ramil Safarov, we still seek #Justice4Margaryan. Must hold Safarov accountable for his crime.?
09/20/13 - Remarks offered on the House floor regarding Armenian Independence Day - Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize the 22nd anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Armenia. On September 21, 1991, Armenia gained its independence from the Soviet Union and the Caucasus region saw new opportunities, as well as new challenges. I'm proud to say that the Republic of Armenia has taken on those opportunities and challenges with great success and now is an important democratic ally of the United States.
Eighteen years ago, I helped found the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues and have served as a co-chair of the caucus since that time. Together, our two countries continue to work towards developing greater economic ties, including trade and investment, and seek to build regional stability. Here in Congress, the Armenia Caucus is working towards those ends.
I ask my colleagues in Congress to join me, along with the Armenian people and Armenian Americans across the country, in celebrating 22 years of Armenian independence.
02/28/13 - Statement submitted for the Congressional Record on Sumgait - Mr. Speaker, again this year I stand to recognize an important period that remains a strong reminder that we must continue to address violent human tragedies whenever they occurred. The American and Armenian people use this time of year to recommit themselves to preventing any further violence. We do this because we mark the anniversary of the Sumgait pogroms where hundreds of Armenians were murdered as a result of long-running hostilities directed towards the Armenian people.
I ask that my colleagues join me in solemnly commemorating the death of these innocent lives. It was on the evening of February 27, 1988 that hundreds of Armenians were brutally murdered, some burned alive and others thrown from windows. Included in the violence was the rape of women and the maiming of children. Armenians saw their belongings stolen, their shops destroyed and thousands were displaced from their homes. To add to the human tragedy, police turned a blind eye thus allowing the pogroms to go on for three days.
Unfortunately, the underlying hostility that led to the outbreak and continued violence of the Sumgait pogroms continues to survive today. For more than two decades, authorities in Azerbaijan have attempted to ignore and cover up these crimes and have instead fostered hatred toward the Armenian people. In an affront to basic senses of justice, the Azerbaijani government recently pardoned Azerbaijani military officer, Ramil Safarov who was sentenced to life in prison in Hungary for murdering an Armenian military officer during a NATO-sponsored training program in 2004. I continue to be outraged by this promotion of violence against innocent Armenians.
I ask that my colleagues join me in calling on Azerbaijan to fully recognize the Sumgait pogroms and to give an accurate historical account of the events. I also ask my colleagues to join me in calling upon the Azerbaijani government to acknowledge Ramil Safarov as a convicted murderer and immediately take action commensurate with a democratic nation that supports justice under the rule of law. Azerbaijan must break from its current course and take action to create a peaceful future.
As co-chair and founder of the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus, I know that the caucus will continue its work to ensure that the basic rights of life, liberty and security are promoted throughout the Caucasus region. We will continue to advocate for a peaceful resolution to conflict in the region. We will continue to call on Azerbaijan to cease its hostilities toward the Armenian people and stand for justice whenever it is violated.