WASHINGTON—Congressman Adam Schiff issued a statement on Tuesday after Permanent Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to the United States Robert Avetisyan attended President Joseph R. Biden’s State of the Union address.
In September 2020, Azerbaijan launched a brutal military offensive against the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, also known as Artsakh, that left thousands of Armenians dead. After purportedly agreeing to a ceasefire, Azerbaijan then laid siege to the region by blocking the Lachin corridor – preventing humanitarian aid, basic supplies, and outside support from reaching roughly 120,000 civilians there.
Schiff has closely monitored this crisis since its beginning and has been in constant touch with the Biden administration, the State Department, USAID, and partners in the Armenian community about ongoing developments and how he can best advocate for Artsakh’s needs in Congress.
“Tonight, President Biden spoke of the United States’ moral obligation to take care of its most vulnerable and outlined how America can remain a beacon for freedom. It is a message that strongly resonated with me as I reflected on the humanitarian crisis in Artsakh, which grows more dire by the day, with widespread shortages of food, medicine, and other necessities, rolling blackouts amid freezing winter temperatures, and tens of thousands of people cut off from their families, loved ones, and livelihoods. Families and children are suffering, and the United States must take decisive action to assist them,” said Schiff.
“I was proud to invite the Permanent Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to the United States, Robert Avetisyan, to be my guest at the State of the Union. I wanted to send a strong signal that Congress will never stop advocating for the right of self-determination and peace for the people of Artsakh,” said Schiff. “I will always stand with the people of Armenia and Artsakh and thank Avetisyan for bringing attention to this humanitarian disaster, and I call on the President of the United States to use all diplomatic tools at our disposal to ensure the safety of the people of Artsakh amid Azerbaijani aggression and the growing danger in the region,” Schiff added.
“I am grateful to Congressman Schiff for the invitation to attend the State of the Union address. It was truly inspiring to witness how this democratic tradition continues through centuries and promotes common approaches, thus contributing to the strength of the political system in the United States. At the same time, I very much appreciate this historic opportunity as all my compatriots in the Republic of Artsakh continue to face the enormous challenges caused by the ongoing blockade by Azerbaijan. This was a great occasion to invite attention to the inhuman treatment of 120,000 people in Artsakh by an autocratic regime in Baku. We hope that with consistent efforts and support by the United States Congress and Administration Artsakh’s blockade will end, we will overcome the humanitarian crisis and continue on our path towards building a sovereign democracy,” said Avetisyan.
Ahead of Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, Schiff and Avetisyan spoke with Asbarez Editor Ara Khachatourian and commented on the significance of the congressman’s invitation of the Karabakh’s representative to the U.S. to this annual democratic tradition.
Immediately after the blockade escalated, Schiff and his colleagues wrote a letter to President Biden urging his administration to use all the tools at its disposal to help ensure Artsakh’s safety – now and in the future – including by immediately and permanently ceasing all assistance to Azerbaijan and imposing sanctions.
Avetisyan has served as the Permanent Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic since 2009. He previously held several roles in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.