WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of State’s weak response to Azerbaijan’s Ankara-backed bombing of civilians across Artsakh undermines American leadership, risks a regional escalation of fighting, and leaves Armenians at risk of renewed genocide.
The same State Department that continues to enforce Turkey’s gag-rule against honest remembrance of the Armenian Genocide is, today, exercising a Baku veto over U.S. condemnation of its surprise and sustained artillery and aerial bombardment of Stepanakert and other population centers in Artsakh and border areas of Armenia. To date, the U.S. Administration has only issued generic calls on all sides to refrain from the use of force, despite the presence of indisputable evidence that Azerbaijan launched this war – specifically and deliberately targeting civilians, a clear war crime according to international law.
“This represents a new low for the State Department, worse even than their shameful record acting as open deniers of the Armenian Genocide and outright apologists for Turkey and Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian violence,” said ANCA Communications Director Elizabeth Chouldjian. “Instead of making excuses for Ankara and Baku, the State Department should be imposing sanctions and preparing criminal indictments against Recep Erdogan and Ilham Aliyev.”
We encourage the Department of State to work constructively to stop Azerbaijan’s aggression, cut off U.S. military aid to Baku, warn Turkey against further escalating the situation, and strengthen the 1994 cease-fire. Urgent priority should be given to overcoming Baku’s obstruction of the Royce-Engel Peace Proposal to secure:
1) An agreement by all sides not to deploy snipers, heavy arms, or any new weapons along the line-of-contact separating Artsakh and Azerbaijani forces;
2) The deployment of OSCE-monitored, advanced gunfire-locator systems, and sound-ranging equipment to determine the source of attacks along the line-of-contact, and;
3) The introduction of additional OSCE observers along the line-of-contact to better monitor cease-fire violations.
To date, Azerbaijan has yet to agree to the implementation of this bipartisan proposal, while the U.S., OSCE, Armenia, and Artsakh have endorsed each of these three pro-peace initiatives.