WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) today criticized the State Department’s pressure upon Congress to provide the President with authority to waive restrictions on U.S aid to Azerbaijan, urging his colleagues to maintain Section 907 in its current form, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.)
In a speech on the House floor earlier this evening, Rep. Pallone argued that, “efforts to weaken or repeal Section 907 only serve to legitimize Azerbaijan’s immoral blockade and would make its position at the negotiating table even more intransigent.” His remarks come in response to a letter circulated yesterday by Secretary of State Colin Powell which urged key Senate and House members to adopt legislation allowing President Bush to waive the 1992 law, without having to certify to Congress that Azerbaijan has taken demonstrable steps to lifts its blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.
Characterizing the State Department letter as “unfortunate,” Rep. Pallone noted that it is “particularly troubling to think that Secretary Powell would want to provide military assistance to Azerbaijan, a nation which has a history of aggression and blockades against Armenia and which continues, to this day, to make threats of renewed aggression against Nagorno Karabagh under the cover of the international war on terrorism.”
“Rather than pressuring Congress to retreat from Section 907, the Administration should instead direct its energies to the source of its problem – the Azerbaijani government’s refusal to meet the conditions of this law by ending its brutal thirteen-year blockade against Armenia and Artsakh,” said Aram Hamparian. “As Congressman Pallone noted in his remarks, it would be irresponsible – and detrimental to our long-term interests in the stability of the Caucasus – to place U.S. military hardware in the hands of an Azerbaijani government that has – in just the past few day, at very senior levels – threatened renewed aggression against the Armenian people.”
Last week Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduced legislation that would allow President Bush to waive the Section 907 without having to certify that Azerbaijan has met its obligations outlined in the law.
The ANCA is working through its network of local chapters and activists, and in coordination with a broad range of Armenian American organizations, to defeat Senator Brownback’s legislation, S.1521, and oppose other related efforts to repeal, waive, or otherwise weaken this provision of U.S. law.
To read the texts of Rep. Pallone’s statement and Secretary Powell’s letter follow, check out the links in the additional documents section below.