WASHINGTON, DC – Senior House Foreign Affairs Committee member Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Armenian Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) have introduced two powerful measures that would revoke the President’s authority to waive Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act and enact U.S. sanctions against President Ilham Aliyev and other senior Azerbaijani officials, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Joining Rep. Smith as early cosponsors of H.R.5686 are Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Jim Costa (D-CA). Early supporters of Rep. Pallone’s bill (H.R.5683) are David Valadao (R-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Kevin Mullin (D-CA), and Jim McGovern (D-MA).
“The people of Nagorno-Karabakh are in grave danger,” said Smith, an internationally recognized human rights defender who met with Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, twice in Baku—in 2013 and again in 2014—to discuss Aliyev’s egregious record of abuses. Smith later authored the Azerbaijan Democracy Act in 2015.
“Tragically, they have been forced to disarm and surrender their independence to a ruthless dictator whose government has repeatedly committed horrific abuses against them over many years, expressed its will to ethnically cleanse them, and even initiated a genocide by starvation with the blockade of the Lachin Corridor,” said Smith. “We must work with them to ensure that the transition is not marked by continued human atrocities.”
Rep. Smith’s legislation, Preventing Ethnic Cleansing and Atrocities in Nagorno-Karabakh Act of 2023, requires the State Department to create a detailed strategy to promote long-term security and well-being of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh through important security provisions.
Rep. Pallone’s bill specifically authorizes foreign military financing for Armenia, bolsters American and Armenian partnerships in the energy, scientific, and technology sectors, instructs the Administration to develop a comprehensive plan to protect Armenians living in Artsakh, and repeals Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act that bans most assistance for Azerbaijan.
“President Aliyev’s genocidal campaign against the Armenian people of Artsakh has gone on too long, and it is past time the United States takes meaningful action to halt it. This legislation takes a major first step in addressing the atrocities committed by his regime and holding him and his cronies accountable for the death and destruction they have wrought. It would also provide the Armenian people impacted by the conflict with the assistance and security they need to live safely in their ancient homelands without fear of reprisal from the Azerbaijani government,” Pallone said. “Additionally, it includes several positive provisions that seek to grow the U.S.-Armenia partnership and help strengthen Armenia’s economy, democracy, and overall standing in the region. I look forward to working with the Senate where a companion bill has been introduced and get it across the finish line.”