February 4, 2021
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel. (202) 775-1918

Rep. Sherman Demands Answers for U.S. Ambassador to Baku Congratulatory Statements on Azerbaijani Aggression

WASHINGTON, DC – Senior House Foreign Affairs Committee member Brad Sherman (D-CA) demanded answers from U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Lee Litzenberger following reports that the U.S. envoy congratulated the Aliyev regime for “restoring its territorial integrity” and pledging U.S. funds to rebuild on occupied Artsakh lands, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Rep. Sherman’s concerns followed news accounts in Azerbaijani press describing Ambassador Litzenberger’s January 27th meeting with Azerbaijan’s Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov.

In a strongly worded letter to Ambassador Litzenberger, Rep. Sherman asked the U.S. envoy to explain:

— Is it the policy of the United States to commend Baku on its successes as a result of the
recent war, which was initiated by Azeri aggression?

— Is it the policy of the United States to encourage investments in Azerbaijan meant to marginalize Artsakh?

Rep. Sherman noted that Amb. Litzenberger’s reported remarks, which have not been refuted by the U.S. Embassy in Baku, run counter to statements by Secretary of State Antony Blinken made during his confirmation process. In response to inquiries by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ed Markey (D-MA), Secretary Blinken noted: “In light of the recent outbreak of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Biden-Harris administration will review our security assistance to Azerbaijan. If the circumstances warrant, the Biden-Harris administration will be prepared to suspend waivers of requirements under section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. If confirmed, I look forward to working with Congress and the Secretary of Defense to determine the appropriate level of assistance to meet the security needs of Armenia and the region.”

Commenting to Asbarez News last week regarding Amb. Litzenberger’s reported remarks, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian stated, “We are troubled by unconfirmed reports that our Ambassador in Baku is celebrating Azerbaijani aggression and – even worse – enlisting Americans in the commercial exploitation of indigenous Armenian lands. In light of published accounts characterizing his comments in this regard, Amb. Litzenberger should set the record straight – explaining whether he is in fact pushing U.S. investments in areas of Artsakh seized by Azerbaijan,” added Hamparian.

The full text of Rep. Sherman’s letter to Amb. Litzenberger is provided below.

#####

February 3, 2021

H.E. Ambassador Lee Litzenberger
U.S. Embassy Baku
111 Azadlig Ave
AZ1007 Baku, Azerbaijan

RE: Remarks, Meeting with Azerbaijan’s Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov

Dear Ambassador Litzenberger,

As you are aware, Azerbaijani and Turkish forces initiated an unprovoked attack against Armenia on September 27, 2020, leading to six weeks of devastating fighting that killed an estimated 5,000 people and forced more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians to flee from the Karabakh region. As a result of the intense fighting, a Russia-backed ceasefire was agreed to, which has resulted in an untenable situation for Artsakh’s long-term security and stability.

According to a press statement issued by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Economy on January 27th, in a meeting with Azerbaijan’s Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov, you congratulated Azerbaijan for “restoring its territorial integrity” and expressed the United States’ readiness to take part in rebuilding lands that recently came under Baku’s control as a result of the war.

The United States is an active member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group process. U.S. engagement in the OSCE process is necessary to find a permanent settlement to the Artsakh conflict that protects the security of Artsakh and helps to ensure another war does not break out. I appreciate the statement Secretary Blinken gave during his confirmation hearing to this end.

Ambassador Litzenberger, your remarks to Azerbaijan’s Economy Minister are extremely concerning, and are all together out of step with Secretary Blinken’s statements to date. Thus, I would appreciate responses to the following questions:

— Is it the policy of the United States to commend Baku on its successes as a result of the
recent war, which was initiated by Azeri aggression?

— Is it the policy of the United States to encourage investments in Azerbaijan meant to marginalize Artsakh?

I look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Brad Sherman
Member of Congress

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