Senate Foreign Relations Committee Warns Against Aliyev’s Scheme to Establish ‘Corridor’
The State Department called for the deployment of a long-term independent international monitoring mission to Nagorno-Karabakh “to provide transparency and reassurances that the rights and securities of ethnic Armenians will be protected.”
State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said during a press briefing that such a team would be beneficial particularly for displaced Artsakh residents who wish to return “and for the protection of cultural heritage sites, which all of course is in line with Azerbaijan’s public statements and their international obligations as well.”
“The United States is going to continue to play a role in engaging with Azerbaijani and Armenian leadership at the highest levels to pursue a dignified and durable peace,” Patel added.
The State Department spokesperson was also asked to comment on a statement made by a United Nations mission to Artsakh this week, which painted a rather rosy picture of Stepanakert after the near complete depopulation of Artsakh.
The UN mission said that they did not receive complaints about ill-treatment or violence by Azerbaijanis, while at the same time admitting that there are close to “50-1,000” Armenians left in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“We certainly appreciate those comments from the UN spokesperson. But that does not change the United States’ point of view on this,” Patel said. “We continue to believe, even in the light of the UN visit, that there is a strong desire and a need for a longer-term, independent international monitoring mission in Nagorno-Karabakh. We think that that will provide transparency; we think that it will provide the appropriate reassurances for the various rights and securities that we continue to be deeply concerned about.”
Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the chairman the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a statement on Wednesday calling for the need to support Armenia and reevaluate military assistance and security cooperation with Azerbaijan.
“Following nearly a year of a horrific blockade, President Aliyev finally used military power to exert control over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, effectively erasing its Armenian population and rich history. As the world continues to grapple with Azerbaijan’s coordinated, intentional campaign of ethnic cleansing, we must both prioritize support for the Armenians who have been expelled as well as holding Azerbaijan accountable,” the Senate committee statement said.
“As we look forward we must take steps to ensure that Azerbaijan does not advance militarily in pursuit for further territorial gains, including forcefully condemning inflammatory rhetoric. The United States should halt security assistance to Azerbaijan until it has stopped this brutal campaign. The United States and the international community must also reaffirm our commitment to documenting war crimes and atrocities, as well as continue to support efforts to repatriate prisoners of war, many of whom Azerbaijan continues to detain,” the statement added.
“Finally, we must stand in solidarity with the Armenian people, particularly as Azerbaijan and Turkey eye the potential Zangezur corridor. We should increase humanitarian support for those ethnic Armenians who have left Nagorno-Karabakh. The U.S. should also continue to support democratic reforms that Armenia’s leadership has taken in recent years, including efforts to promote transparency, good governance, and economic cooperation with the United States and Western Europe more broadly,” Cardin said in his statement.