November 23, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel: (202) 775-1918

AZERBAIJAN’S DIVISIVE CAMPAIGN AT UNITED NATIONS THREATENS TO DERAIL KARABAGH PEACE PROCESS

Rep. Pallone Speaks Out Against Destructive UN resolution

WASHINGTON, DC – The ANCA, today, issued an appeal to Secretary of State Colin Powell urging him to “strenuously and publicly oppose” an Azerbaijani-sponsored United Nations resolution which would seriously undermine the Nagorno Karabagh peace process. The action follows a strongly worded November 19th House floor statement by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and an earlier joint letter by the Armenian Caucus Co-chairs calling the resolution “ill-advised” and urging the U.S. take decisive action against the measure.

United Nations consideration the resolution, which would seek to condemn the repatriation of Armenians to their ancestral homes in Nagorno Karabagh, may come as early as Wednesday, November 24th. Azerbaijan has pressed forward with its resolution, despite opposition from the Co-Chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group. The Co-Chairs have noted that, “introducing this issue to the United Nations General Assembly may have two negative consequences. In light of the situation we have outlined, this will be detrimental to the efforts to find a just and lasting settlement of the issue, particularly at this time. Secondly, it will fail to achieve consensus, a situation that will not be helpful. We advise avoiding this situation.”

Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UN, Yashar Aliyev, began lobbying in support of the resolution on October 14th, the day that he submitted a letter requesting that it be included on the UN General Assembly agenda. Both the UN General Committee and General Assembly have voted to allow the matter to be considered. The United States, along with Minsk Group Co-Chairs France and Russia, have abstained on both votes.

In his November 19th remarks, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) expressed alarm that “the United State has thus far failed to compellingly address the resolution. . . This failure by the Administration now has the potential to undermine U.S. interests and American values in the strategically important Caucasus region.” The full text of Rep. Pallone’s speech is provided below.

The November 7th letter from the Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) raised similar concerns, stressing that, “efforts to reinforce stability and reduce the risk of conflict are in the best interests of the U.S. and the South Caucasus region. To this end, we urge that the United States forcefully renounce this proposal, secure its retraction, and impress upon the Azerbaijani government that it should drop such counter-productive tactics in favor of a serious and lasting commitment to the OSCE Minsk Group process.”

In the days leading up the vote, ANCA chapters around the country have mobilized local activists to urge the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to actively oppose the Azerbaijani measure. The ANCA launched a free WebFax campaign on its website – www.anca.org — to Secretary Powell and US Ambassador to the UN John Danforth, calling for an unequivocal “no” vote on the resolution. The WebFax letter explains that Azerbaijan’s resolution “works at cross-purposes to America’s interests, which are best served by continued dialogue. In fact, the only interests served by Azerbaijan’s resolution will be those of hardliners in Baku who seek the fragmentation of the OSCE framework, the unraveling of ten year’s worth of negotiations, and the resumption of hostilities in the region. . . The United States, as a co-chair of the Minsk Group and an honest broker to the negotiating process, should strenuously, and publicly oppose this measure at every stage.”

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STATEMENT BY CONGRESSIONAL ARMENIAN CAUCUS COCHAIR REP. FRANK PALLONE (D-NJ) ON DESTRUCTIVE AZERBAIJAN SPONSORED RESOLUTION AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to bring to our attention Azerbaijan’s recent introduction of an ill-advised United Nations General Assembly resolution regarding what Azerbaijan erroneously refers to as “the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.”

This intentionally disruptive resolution directly and significantly threatens efforts towards a peaceful settlement over the Nagorno -Karabagh conflict. Furthermore, it jeopardizes the principles and procedures of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and specifically the Minsk Group mediation effort, co-chaired by the United States, France and Russia, to resolve the Karabagh conflict.

Azerbaijan’s proposal represents a hostile declaration against the entire peace process, aimed only at fostering increased divisiveness. Its consideration can only set back the cause of peace.

Mr. Speaker, it is disturbing to note that this resolution was recently approved to be included on the U.N. General Assembly’s agenda. Even more alarming is the fact that the United States has thus far failed to compellingly address the resolution, choosing to instead abstain from every vote in which they had an opportunity to halt the advancement of this destructive measure. This failure by the administration now has the potential to undermine U.S. interests and American values in the strategically important Caucasus region.

Mr. Speaker, the vital role the United States plays as an honest broker in the Nagorno -Karabagh peace process is gravely threatened by the administration’s continued lack of decisive action. Given our commitment to keeping the parties talking and moving forward, it is necessary for the U.S. to act forcefully against destabilizing steps that will unravel the peace process. Our interests are best served by the continuation of dialogue on the outstanding issues related to Nagorno -Karabagh within the OSCE framework and not by the fragmentation of this orderly process.

Since the beginning of the Nagorno -Karabagh conflict, Armenia has been committed to finding a peaceful solution. Moreover, I cannot stress enough the crucial role that the U.S. plays in the negotiations over Nagorno -Karabagh to help the people of this region find a lasting and equitable peace. These actions by Azerbaijan subvert these efforts and seriously complicate our diplomacy in the Caucasus region. A failure on our part to forcefully and publicly confront the Azerbaijani government over these destabilizing maneuvers would send extremely dangerous signals to Azerbaijan.

Mr. Speaker, the U.S. must take action to condemn Azerbaijan’s desperate acts of destructive venue shopping, and we here in this Chamber must do everything that we can to ensure that all parties involved in this conflict make a genuine commitment towards peace and stability. Action on the part of the U.S. must go further than the OSCE joint statement that was released in which the members of the Minsk Group expressed their concern and opposition towards the Azeri resolution. Beyond merely releasing a statement, the U.S. must demonstrate its views by taking a stance and voting against this measure.

I urge the U.S. to forcefully renounce this proposal, secure its retraction and impress upon the Azerbaijani government that it should drop such counterproductive tactics in favor of serious and lasting commitment to the OSCE Minsk Group process.

The OSCE Minsk Group process cannot survive Azerbaijan’s destabilizing tactics. Continued tampering with this process will inevitably produce a chain reaction resulting in its demise. We cannot afford to allow Azerbaijan to continue to disrupt the work of the OSCE, which, as my colleagues know, has been recognized by the U.N. itself as the lead arbiter in this conflict.

Finally, it is time for the U.S. to be more forceful with Azerbaijan and to make clear that their tactics are not helpful to a peaceful and just resolution of the Nagorno -Karabagh conflict. Once again, it is imperative, Mr. Speaker, for the U.S. to vote against this U.N. resolution, thereby clearly demonstrating that there are serious consequences to actions that disturb the regional Caucasus peace, security and prosperity.

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