December 12, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel: (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell

PALLONE, KNOLLENBERG, SCHIFF, AND RADANOVICH CONGRATULATE NAGORNO KARABAGH ON ADOPTION OF PRO-INDEPENDENCE CONSTITUTION

Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Praise Vote as a Key Milestone in Nagorno Karabagh's Political and Democratic Development

WASHINGTON, DC – The Co-Chairmen of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), were joined today by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and George Radanovich (R-CA) in congratulating the citizens of the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh) on overwhelmingly approving a pro-independence constitution in a popular referendum held on December 10th, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

In a December 11th letter to Artsakh President Arkady Ghoukasian, the two Caucus leaders welcomed the adoption of the first-ever constitution as a key milestone in Nagorno Karabagh’s political and democratic progress. They stressed that, “Artsakh’s Constitution embodies your nation’s values to live in a free and fair society, where human rights and economic opportunities are enjoyed by all,” adding that “societies that are fundamentally free and fair are most successful, contributing to international security and progress along the way.” They closed their letter to the President by reaffirming that they “will remain by your side, as Nagorno Karabagh, Artsakh, continues to pursue its freedom, security and development.”

Commenting on the referendum, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) stated, “I congratulate the people of the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh for reaffirming their commitment to freedom, peace, economic development, and regional stability by democratically adopting a new constitution. By establishing a market economy, holding free and fair elections, and promoting human rights, the people of Nagorno Karabagh have shown that they deserve an independent state free from the oppressive Azerbaijani regime.”

Rep. Radanovich noted that “The adoption of Nagorno Karabagh’s first ever democratic Constitution is a landmark achievement; advancing democracy breeds a free and open society, while promoting human rights. The adoption of the Constitution proves the desire of the people of Nagorno Karabagh to live in such a free society. I commend this great achievement and pledge my continuing support for the Nagorno Karabagh Republic.”

In letters sent yesterday to every member of Congress, the ANCA underscored that “the approval of the Nagorno Karabagh constitution reaffirms its citizens’ collective commitment to freedom and marks a major milestone in this new democracy’s contribution to peace, economic development, and regional stability.” Each ANCA letter was accompanied by a three-page briefing document (attached) addressing key points concerning Nagorno Karabagh, Azerbaijan, the peace process, and prospects for regional stability.

The Nagorno Karabagh Republic Central Electoral Commission has reported, based on preliminary results, that the people of Nagorno Karabagh overwhelmingly approved their first-ever constitution by a majority in excess of 98% of those casting ballots. Early estimates point to a voter turnout of over 87% of eligible voters.

The new constitution affirms that the Nagorno Karabagh Republic is a sovereign state based upon democracy and the rule of law, as well as the protection of human rights and civil liberties. The state’s authority is derived from popular consent, as expressed through elections and referendums, and the governmental system is based on the principle of separation of the executive, legislative and judiciary branches.

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