WASHINGTON, DC – Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken Hachikian, in remarks delivered yesterday before more than 1000 elected officials and community leaders at the annual Western Region banquet, publicly and forcefully challenged recent statements by senior State Department official Matt Bryza that, as a precondition for peace, Armenia must agree that Nagorno Karabagh is part of Azerbaijan.
Speaking before a capacity crowd at the the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Hachikian sharply condemned the “retreat from principle” in U.S. policy toward the people and republic of Nagorno Karabagh – who have strived, at the brutal cost of a generation of its best sons and daughters – to live up to the fundamentally American ideal that all people deserve to live free of foreign tyranny, under a government of their own choosing.” He added that, “just this past week, we saw a senior State Department official, Matt Bryza, moving farther from even the pretense of supporting democracy, by saying that Armenia must accept the false proposition that Nagorno Karabagh is part of Azerbaijan. He’s absolutely wrong. And we all know it – and so does Baku and Ankara.”
In an October 9th interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation Russian language service, Bryza, who serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and also the State Department’s representative to the OSCE Minsk Group talks, stated that Armenia must agree that Nagorno Karabagh is legally part of Azerbaijan. His comments follow a series of statements, over the past several weeks, in which Bryza has demonstrated a pro-Azerbaijani bias by prioritizing the misapplication of the principle of territorial integrity to the Nagorno Karabagh issue over the basic right of all peoples to self-determination.
The full text of Hachikian’s remarks follow.
Archbishop, honorees & friends.
Thank you for coming here tonight and for your ongoing support.
I’d like to share with you a thought today. A very simple20one:
And that’s… the future of the Armenian Cause lies within your hands.
We are blessed to live in a great nation, a country in which our voice truly counts.
A republic rich in democratic traditions that provides each and every one of us the opportunity– in the words of our enduring Constitution – to petition government for redress of our grievances.
Because, even as we cherish the rights and gladly shoulder the responsibilities of American citizenship – whether our families arrived generations ago or within our own lifetimes – we certainly do have our share of grievances.
Strong views – informed by our Armenian heritage and driven by our fundamental American sense of right and wrong.
Views about where our government has taken the wrong path.
Where Washington has fallen so short; failed to meet the high standard of the American ideal
Nowhere is this starker than in U.S. government’s ongoing complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.
It is painful to me as an Armenian, as it is shameful to all of us as Americans, that our great nation has, for far too long, caved in to the Turkish government’s threats and blackmail on this core question of human rights.
We have let ourselves be bullied and have caved in to foreign pressure. Allowed a gag rule to be imposed on America.
An indignity visited upon all of us – and all Americans. A moral outrage.
All the more so in light of Turkey’s attempts to twist the recent opening of dialogue into an outright attack on Armenian Genocide recognition – here in the United States and abroad.
Now is the time to show our collective commitment, our rock-solid devotion to not only the cause of truth, but the sacred cause of justice for our ancient and proud nation.
For our past, to be sure, to honor our martyrs – but even more so for our future.
We now see a retreat from principle again in our government’s recent policy toward the people and republic of Nagorno Karabagh – who have strived, at the brutal cost of a generation of its best sons and daughters – to live up to the fundamentally American ideal that all people deserve to live free of foreign tyranny, under a government of their own choosing.
Just this past week, we saw a senior State Department official, Matt Bryza –moving farther from even the pretense of supporting democracy, by saying that Armenians must accept the false proposition that Nagorno Karabagh is part of Azerbaijan.
He’s absolutely wrong. And we all know it – and so does Baku and Ankara. Armenian soldiers – some still boys, others well beyond their best years – answered forever the question of Karabagh’s destiny on the battlefields of war.
Countless graves along the front lines of this struggle stand as testimony to this fact, each silently calling upon us – each and every one of us – to defend their heroic achievements in the capitals of the world.
Let us, who are gathered here today, match their “last full measure of devotion” with our own.
Let us seize the freedoms and opportunities we are blessed with as Americans
Let us build a brighter future for ourselves and generations to come …
Each and every one of us has a moral obligation to ourselves and our ancestors to become warriors in this struggle.
I know we will persevere and we will win these battles.
But only with our collective efforts.
In simple yet powerful ways – the Armenian Cause rests within your hands.
Photo Caption: ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian speaking at the Western Region Banquet