WASHINGTON–Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus Co-chairman John Edward Porter (R-Ill.) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) were joined last week by House International Relations Committee member Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) in speaking out on the House floor against the restricting US aid to the government of Azerbaijan–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
In a July 29 statement on the House floor–Rep. Pallone argued that President Clinton’s August 1–meeting with visiting Azeri President Gaidar Aliyev would likely "encourage Azerbaijan to further harden its negotiating stance. This encouragement is particularly dangerous given President Aliyev’s pattern of unacceptable behavior–including his use of oil as a weapon against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh–his blockades of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh–his refusal to negotiate directly with the democratically elected representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh."
Later that same day–Rep. Pallone spoke to more than 400 Armenian-Americans gathered in downtown Washington to protest a speech by Aliyev to leading government officials and oil industry executives. Rep. Porter–in his remarks on the House floor on July 29–highlighted the powerful lobbying campaign against Section 907 by the Administration and oil firms involved in Azerbaijan.
He stressed that "this approach is counterproductiveindeed dangerous–to negotiations regarding the future of Nagorno-Karabakh… If we tip the scale in favor of Azerbaijan–they will no longer have an incentive to negotiate in good faith on a permanent solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh situation."
During a July 31 overview of his activities on the House floor during the past year–freshman Congressman Brad Sherman remarked about his participation in the July 30–meeting between Aliyev and the House International Relations Committee.
"[Aliyev] tried to convince us that Nagorno-Karabakh was a natural part of Azerbaijan," explained Rep. Sherman." He was wrong. The only individual who had a hand in transferring that territory to Azeri sovereignty–even for a while–was Joseph Stalin.
"The idea that Azerbaijan would claim a territory populated by Armenia’s and that their only claim to it is: ?Joseph Stalin gave it to us,’ I think that is a rather weak claim."