For Hill Staff

The Armenian American community prioritizes a broad array of public policy issues, ranging from the development of US-Armenia relations and American support for a just resolution to the Armenian Genocide to freedom for the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh), and the welfare of beleaguered Armenian and other Christian communities in the Middle East.

The ANCA offers a variety of resources to help Members of Congress and staff understand and act on these concerns.  We invite you to review the information provided below and reach out to our ANCA staff to discuss them further.

Raffi N. Karakashian, Esq., ANCA Government Affairs Director – | (202) 775-1918

Armenian American Priorities (click on any topic to learn more)

The Armenian Genocide was the centrally planned and systematically executed deportation and murder of over 2 million Christian Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians, perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish Government from 1915-1923.  Despite overwhelming documentation by historians and condemnation by over 25 countries worldwide, Turkey continues to enforce a gag-rule against truthful US reaffirmation of this crime.

ANCA Ask:  President Trump should properly recognize the Armenian Genocide and Congress should enact legislation calling for a truthful and just resolution of this still unpunished crime.

US & International Affirmation of the Armenian Genocide:

  • Executive — The United States first officially recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1951 in a written statement to the International Court of Justice regarding the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and later by President Reagan in 1981.
  • Legislative — The U.S. House of Representatives adopted Armenian Genocide legislation in 1975, 1984, and reduced aid to Turkey in 1996 citing the Armenian Genocide.
  • U.S. States — 47 of 50 States have recognized the Armenian Genocide through legislation or gubernatorial proclamation.
  • International Affirmation — 27 Countries – including 11 NATO allies – and international bodies including the European Parliament and MARCOSUR have recognized the Armenian Genocide.

Near East Relief and US Humanitarian Assistance to Armenian Genocide Survivors:  Under Congressional mandate, the US, between 1915 and 1930, embarked on an unprecedented humanitarian campaign providing the equivalent of over $2 billion in today’s dollars to help save Armenian Genocide survivors.  Every US state did its part to support the humanitarian effort – documented thoroughly in state-by-state fact sheets prepared by the ANCA Western Region’s “America We Thank You” project.  Learn more about the effort by visiting the ANCA Western Region’s “America We Thank You” campaign or by visiting the Near East Relief website.

Additional Resources

  • Fact Sheet:  The Armenian Genocide
  • Map:  Armenian Genocide deportation routes
  • Trade Statistics:  Despite Turkish threats, bilateral trade between Turkey and countries recognizing the Armenian Genocide has steadily increased.
  • Learn more:  Extensive resources on Armenian Genocide facts, affirmation, and education are available in the ANCA’s Armenian Genocide section on this site.

The territory of present-day Turkey, encompassing the biblical lands of Anatolia and Mount Ararat – the famed resting-place of Noah’s Ark – is home to many of Christianity’s pivotal events and holy sites.  Before 1915, the territory of modern-day Turkey was home to large, indigenous, and vibrant Christian communities, comprised of millions of Armenians, Greeks, Pontians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, and Catholics.  The Christian population in Turkey has been decimated through genocide and persecution.  In the past century, over 1,500,000 Armenian Christians were murdered.  Today, the persecution and dispossession of Christians continues and they account for less than 0.1% of Turkey’s population.  Of the over 2,000 Armenian churches which existed in the early 1900s, only 38 remain open and active today.  Christians cannot legally train clergy in Turkey and the Ecumenical (Greek Orthodox) and Armenian Patriarchates are prevented from formally owning and transferring property.

ANCA Ask:  The President and Congress should put in place policies that, first, prevent the vast and ongoing destruction of Christian religious heritage within Turkey, and then initiate a sustainable process of restoring, to their rightful owners, all stolen Christian holy sites and religious properties.

Past Legislation:

  • The Return of Churches Resolution (H. Res. 306 – 112th Congress), spearheaded by senior House Foreign Affairs Committee member Ed Royce (R-CA) and the panel’s Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA), was overwhelmingly adopted by the House of Representatives on December 13, 2011.  The resolution calls upon the government of Turkey to honor its international obligations to return confiscated Christian church properties and to fully respect the rights of Christians to practice their faiths in freedom.
  • The Return of Churches Resolution (S. Res. 392 – 112th Congress), spearheaded by Senators Scott Brown (R-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Mark Kirk (R-IL), was similar to H. Res. 306, calling upon the government of Turkey to honor its international obligations to return confiscated Christian church properties and to fully respect the rights of Christians to practice their faiths in freedom.
  • Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act (H. R. 4347 – 113th Congress), spearheaded by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member, Eliot Engel (D-NY) required the Obama Administration to submit annual reports on the status of stolen Christian churches and properties in Turkey and occupied Cyprus.  The resolution was adopted with amendments by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on June 26, 2014.

Additional Resources:

  • Fact Sheet:  Why pass the Return of Churches Resolutions (H. Res. 306 / S. Res. 392)
  • Fact Sheet:  Why pass the Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act (H.R. 4347)
  • Fact Sheet:  Christian Persecution in Turkey
  • Fact Sheet:  Early Christianity in the Lands of Present-Day Turkey
  • Fact Sheet:  Excerpts of USCIRF Report on Turkey (2014)
  • Myths and Facts:  Turkey’s Troubling Record of Restricting Religious Freedom
  • Setting the Record Straight:  A point-by-point rebuttal to the Turkish Embassy’s attack on H. Res. 306

The bonds of friendship and shared values between Americans and Armenians span more than a century. Americans of Armenian heritage have served the US in every war since the Civil War, and proudly serve today in every branch of the military.  Since regaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Republic of Armenia has been a strong friend of America, sending troops to support US operations in Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mali, and Afghanistan.  In addition, Armenia is regularly ranked highly by the Wall Street Journal / Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom.

At the same time, the people of landlocked Armenia, the world’s first Christian state, continue to face the devastating impact of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s dual economic blockades.

ANCA Ask:  The Administration should actively promote the growth of US-Armenia economic relations by negotiating a US-Armenia Double Tax Treaty, hosting trade missions, and by other means, consistent with calls by Microsoft, FedEx, NASDAQ, and other firms doing business in Armenia.

Key Issues:

  • US-Armenia Economic Relations:  Since regaining its independence in 1991, the US and Armenia have enacted a range of bilateral economic treaties and agreements including: Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), Bilateral Investment Treaty (1992), Agreement on Trade Relations (1992), Investment Incentive Agreement (1992), World Trade Organization Membership (2003), Permanent Normal Trade Relations Status (2004), Joint Economic Task Force (1999), and Trade and Investment Framework Agreement – TIFA (2015).
  • US Aid to Armenia:  Since the Armenian earthquake in December 1988, the US has sent over $2 billion in US assistance to landlocked Armenia to help address the devastating impact of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s illegal blockades.  US assistance has played a vital role in helping alleviate these blockades (among the longest in modern history) and promoting Armenia’s free market system and democratic development.
  • US-Armenia Military Cooperation:  Armenia, a crucial ally in a strategic region of the world, has extended robust support for US-led peacekeeping deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Mali and Kosovo, and is cooperating with the US on a broad range of regional and security challenges.  In June 2011, as countries were pulling out of Afghanistan, Armenia actually tripled its troop deployment there.  Armenia had four times as many troops in Afghanistan per capita than Turkey and ten times more per capita than either Canada or France.  Armenia signed a bilateral affairs agreement with the US Department of Defense and the State of Kansas in 2003, establishing the Kansas-Armenia State Partnership Program.  In 2014, Kansas and Armenia expanded the effort by enacting the Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program, which has helped renovate the Darbas School, Darbas Clinic, Ashtarak hospital, Yerevan Elderly Institute #1, and the Yerevan Emergency Operations Center.

Additional Resources:

  • Position Paper:  Growing the US-Armenia Economic Relationship
  • Map:  Armenia and Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh)
  • Fact Sheet:  US-Armenia Double Tax Treaty
  • Fact Sheet:  US-Armenia Economic Relations: Current Status and Future Prospects
  • Fact Sheet:  US-Armenia Trade Chart

The Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) is an integral part of historic Armenia that was arbitrarily carved out in 1921 by Joseph Stalin and placed under Soviet Azerbaijani administration, but with autonomous status, as part of the Soviet divide-and-conquer strategy in the Caucasus.  During seven decades of Soviet Azerbaijani rule, the Armenian population of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) was subjected to discriminatory policies aimed at its removal.  In the late 1980s, the United States welcomed Artsakh’s (Nagorno Karabakh) historic challenge to the Soviet system and its leadership in sparking democratic movements in the Baltics and throughout the Soviet empire.

On September 2, 1991, the people of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) declared independence from the Soviet Union and became the Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) Republic.  On December 10, 1991, Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) held an independence referendum in which 82% of all voters participated and 99% voted for independence.  In response, Azerbaijan launched an all-out war against the Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) Republic, targeting civilians and recruiting Islamic extremist mujahideen from Afghanistan and Chechnya to join the Azerbaijani army.  In May 1994, the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), Armenia, and Azerbaijan signed a cease-fire agreement with mediation efforts through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, co-chaired by the US, France, and Russia.

ANCA Ask:  The United States should formally recognize the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh), affirming its right to self-determination within secure borders.  The US should expand the annual US assistance to the Republic to at least $8 million in US developmental and humanitarian aid to offset ongoing Azerbaijani aggression and a blockade in place since 1988.  As Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the US should clearly and unequivocally condemn Azerbaijani aggression against Armenia and Artsakh.

Past Legislation:

  • Section 907 Restriction on US Aid to Azerbaijan:  In 1992, the US passed Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which limits assistance to Azerbaijan until it takes steps to “cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh).”
  • US Aid to the Artsakh Republic (Nagorno Karabakh):  Since FY 1998, direct US aid to Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) has represented a powerful investment in peace and an enduring expression of America’s leadership in supporting a negotiated and democratic resolution of security and status issues related to the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh).  This direct aid has met pressing humanitarian needs, providing, most recently, desperately needed clean water to families and the clearing of villages and farmlands of mines and unexploded ordnance.
  • U.S. Legislation supporting Artsakh Freedom and condemning Azerbaijani Aggression:
    • In July 1988, the Senate unanimously passed Amendment 2690 to the Foreign Operations bill, which called on the Soviet government to “respect the legitimate aspirations of the Armenian people” petitioning for Karabakh independence.
    • The Senate, in November 1989, adopted S. J. Res. 178, expressing United States support for “the fundamental rights and the aspirations of the people of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) for a peaceful and fair settlement.”
    • With violence against Armenians continuing, the Senate passed S. Res. 128 in May 1991, which stated, “Soviet and Azerbaijani forces have destroyed Armenian villages and depopulated Armenian areas in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in violation of internationally recognized human rights” and called “for the end to the blockades and other uses of force and intimidation directed against Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh).”

Nagorno Karabakh Peace Process:  The Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) Republic was one of the three parties to the 1994 cease-fire, which ended military hostilities between Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and Azerbaijan.  In its aftermath, Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) participated in the OSCE Minsk Group peace process as a partner, along with Armenia and Azerbaijan.  Since 1998, however, at Baku’s insistence, Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) has been unfairly and counter-productively excluded from the peace process.  Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) should, in the interests of peace and fairness, be a full participant in all talks regarding its future.

Additional Resources:

  • Map:  Armenia and Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh)
  • Fact Sheet:  The Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh)
  • Fact Sheet:  Azerbaijan – Destabilizing the Caucasus and Inciting Hate

Javakhk is a historically Armenian region in the southern part of the Republic of Georgia.  The economic well-being, civic engagement, and social development of the Armenian population of Javakhk represent keys to a unified, independent, and democratic Georgia that both respects pluralism and promotes local self-government.

Congressional Action:

Additional Resources:

Armenians and other vulnerable civilian populations have been caught between warring sides in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East.  These conflicts have created humanitarian crises for Armenian communities across the region.  Within Syria, much of the historic Armenian community has been destroyed, with residential neighborhoods being bombed, churches desecrated, and individuals killed or kidnapped.  Those who remain are working to save their community and serve the basic humanitarian needs of the most needy among them.

ANCA Ask:  The ANCA requests that USAID address serious gaps in the delivery of need-based humanitarian aid within Syria which have left Armenians and other at-risk minority populations largely outside the stream of international assistance.  The ANCA calls for increased US and international assistance to help Armenia settle the more than 22,000 refugees from Syria who have found safe haven in Armenia.

Turkey’s Destabilizing Role in the Syria Crisis:

Turkey continues to undermine both U.S. interests and regional stability through its complicity with ISIS and its escalating anti-Kurdish aggression:

— Turkey’s bombing campaigns against the Kurds in Northern Syria and Iraq undermines the national security of the Untied States and threatens to reverse what US blood and treasure have fought for in the last 13 years. They are effectively eliminating ISIS’ only strong opposition on the ground.

— The Kurds in Iraq and Syria have proven themselves reliable US partners in the region. They have shouldered the fight against the ISIS more than any other power in the region. They have fought back ISIS successfully on the ground in both Iraq and Syria reversing ISIS gains in the last year. Turkey’s recent targeting of the Kurds in Syria and Iraq proves that Turkey is working openly against not only US interests, but all those who oppose the growth of a brutal terrorist fundamentalist state in the region. Turkey’s actions are in support of ISIS by attempting to destroy the Kurds and leave no other power on the ground to stand in way of ISIS’ aim to create a terrorist fundamentalist super power state throughout the region.

— Turkey’s shortsighted war against the Kurds will eliminate the only real and effective counter balance to ISIS on the ground in Iraq and Syria. The US should not allow Turkey to destabilize not only the region but the world by removing the only effective indigenous ground force that can effectively defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

— Turkey is once again using larger world events to cloak its policy of ethnic cleansing. It used WWI to commit the Genocide of the Armenians, now it is using civil war in Iraq and Syria to destroy it owns Kurdish community, and eliminate a true expression of democracy in Turkey, via the most recent national elections in Turkey.

Additional Resources:

The bonds of friendship and shared values between Americans and Armenians span over a century. Americans of Armenian heritage have served the US in every war since the Civil War, and proudly serve today in every branch of the military.  Today, with the generous help of our Congress, the Republic of Armenia is a strong friend of America, sending troops to support our operations in Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mali and Afghanistan.  Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), with the support of direct US assistance, stands today as a constructive partner in the search for a lasting peace in the Caucasus.

ANCA FY 2018 Foreign Aid Priorities:

  1.  At least $8 million in US developmental aid to Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh).
  2.  At least $20 million to support implementation of the Royce-Engel Peace proposals.
  3.  Zero-out US military aid to Azerbaijan until it ceases its aggression, renounces violence, and  commits to a purely peaceful resolution of regional conflicts.
  4.  Language strengthening Section 907 restrictions on US aid to Azerbaijan.
  5.  At least $40 million in US economic assistance to Armenia, and $11 million in US military aid.
  6.  At least $40 million to support Armenia’s efforts to serve as a regional safe haven for at-risk populations fleeing violence in the Middle East.

Nagorno Karabakh:

U.S. aid to Nagorno Karabakh represents a small but crucial investment in the stability of a strategic region. Over the course of the past 2 decades, U.S. aid has provided maternal health care and clean drinking water, and is currently funding the latter stages of a multi-year HALO Trust land mine and unexploded ordnance clearance effort. Parallel to de-mining, there is also a need for water systems as well as rehabilitation centers for children, adults and the elderly with physical and cognitive disabilities.

— The ANCA requests not less than $8 million in Fiscal Year 2018 aid for Nagorno Karabakh, including for de-mining, rehabilitation programs, and water supply systems.

Consistent with U.S leadership in advancing the pro-peace mission of the OSCE Minsk Group, and in light of Azerbaijan’s arms build-up and escalating aggression against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh:

— The ANCA seeks not less than $20 million to support implementation of the Royce-Engel peace proposals, prioritizing the placement of OSCE-monitored, advanced gunfire locator systems and sound-ranging equipment to determine the source of attacks along the line of contact.

— The ANCA seeks the suspension of U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan until its government ceases its attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, ends its threat of renewed war, and agrees to the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts.

— The ANCA seeks the addition of the following certification requirement to the President’s waiver authority under Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act: “In the last fiscal year, Azerbaijan has not taken hostile action, either through military force or incitement, including but not limited to threatening pronouncements by government officials toward Armenia or Nagorno Karabakh, and has both stated and demonstrated its commitment to pursuing a lasting peace with Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh through solely non-violent means.”

Support for Armenia’s Independence:

The ANCA recognizes the longstanding leadership of Congress in strengthening the U.S.-Armenia partnership, a relationship founded upon a shared commitment to faith, freedom, and democratic values. U.S. assistance has empowered progress in the areas of democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression, and free enterprise.

Armenia provides a safe haven for refugees, participates in U.S.-led peace-keeping deployments, supports the peaceful resolution of regional disputes, and cooperates, both bilaterally and multilaterally, on political, economic, military, and cultural issues. Our nations have signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and new U.S. investments, totaling over $500,000,000, have recently been made by U.S. firms in Armenia’s energy and mineral industries.

Blockaded by Azerbaijan and Turkey, Armenia confronts serious challenges to its security and its sovereignty. U.S. economic and military assistance plays a vital role in strengthening Armenia’s independence, providing this pro-Western republic with a greater range of strategic options in standing up to regional powers. Military aid enables Armenia’s membership in NATO’s Partnership for Peace, promotes NATO interoperability, and supports Armenia’s participation in peacekeeping operations, including: deployments to countries ranging from Afghanistan (ISAF & Resolute Support Mission) and Iraq (Polish command) to Kosovo (KFOR), Lebanon (UNIFIL), and Mali (MINUSMA) – all since 2004.

Increased Foreign Military Financing (FMF) can modernize the Training Center for Armenia’s Peacekeeping Brigade, bringing this facility up to NATO/Partnership for Peace specifications, helping Armenia to deploy a larger number of highly-trained peacekeepers and support the creation of a Role 2 Field Hospital and Explosive Ordnance Disposal/Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices Engineering unit to support peacekeeping missions. Increased International Military Educational Training (IMET) can expand U.S. training opportunities for Armenian officers, NCOs, and civil servants, advancing U.S.-Armenia defense cooperation goals.

— The ANCA calls for not less than $40 million in Fiscal Year 2018 economic aid and $11 million in military (FMF and IMET) aid is appropriated to Armenia.

Regional Safe Haven for Middle East Refugees:

More than 22,000 individuals from Syria have sought safety in Armenia, which, despite being one of the poorest nations to accept Syrian refugees, has received only modest levels of U.S. and international relief and resettlement assistance. Armenia has demonstrated its willingness to play a larger role as a regional safe haven for Middle East refugees, including religious minorities, but lacks the financial resources to offer the transition assistance needed by families fleeing violence. Areas of greatest need include short-term housing/rental assistance and support for social and economic integration.

— The ANCA requests not less than $40,000,000 is appropriated to support Armenia’s efforts to serve as a regional safe haven for at-risk populations fleeing violence in the Middle East.


Additional Resources:

  • Position Paper:  Review the ANCA Position on Foreign Aid
  • Position Paper:  Standing with Middle East Armenian Communities
  • Position Paper:  Supporting Javakhk
  • Fact Sheet:  The Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh)
  • Fact Sheet:  Azerbaijan – Destabilizing the Caucasus and Inciting Hate
  • Map:  Armenia and Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh)
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