Dear Congressman Sherman:
I am writing on behalf of my family and friends to express our strong support for the amendment you are offering to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (H.R. 2500) that would block the transfer of U.S. defense articles that strengthen Azerbaijan’s offensive airstrike capabilities.
I am particularly supportive of your initiative because, if enacted into federal law, it would serve to limit Baku’s ability to act upon its standing threat to shoot down civilian aircraft operating out of Artsakh’s Stepanakert Airport. As you may already be aware – in March of 2011 – Arif Mamadov, the Director of Azerbaijan’s Civil Aviation Administration, reported that the Azerbaijani government had warned the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that it had not authorized flights to Nagorno Karabakh, explaining that “The law on aviation envisages the physical destruction of airplanes landing in that territory.” It is my understanding that – to date – the Azerbaijani government has neither withdrawn this threat nor agreed that its forces will not shoot down civilian aircraft.
Unfortunately, due to threats from Azerbaijani authorities, the civilian airport in Stepanakert has remained closed for the past eight years, depriving the citizens of the Republic of Artsakh and others of their universally recognized right to travel. I would add that your amendment is entirely consistent with the Artsakh Travel and Communications Resolution (H.Res.190) – which I am very happy to know already has your strong backing.
Thank you again, Congressman Sherman, for your leadership in offering this worthwhile amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. Please keep me updated on the status of the amendment when it is considered by the U.S. House of Representatives.