"Section 907 was a good law when it was passed–and it remains a good law seven years later. Azerbaijan has done nothing to merit the repeal of Section 907" – Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
WASHINGTON–Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ)–urged the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the Clinton Administration to reconsider their ongoing efforts to repeal the law restricting certain US assistance to the government of Azerbaijan–commonly known as Section 907–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
"The US taxpayer should not be asked to subsidize an Azerbaijani regime which imposes blockades on it neighbors–now in their tenth year–holds fraudulent elections–promotes widespread corruption–and has rejected the peace plan for Nagorno Karabakh put forward by the OSCE," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We share Congressman Pallone’s concerns and are working to educate members of Congress about the negative impact that weakening or repealing Section 907 would have on US interests in the region."
Citing the ongoing blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan’s rejection of the most recent peace proposal offered by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–Rep. Pallone argued that repealing Section 907 would send the wrong message at a critical period in the peace negotiations.
Referring to the Administration’s efforts as "unfortunate and misguided," Rep. Pallone pointed out the debilitating effects of the decade-long Azerbaijani blockades during a speech on the House floor earlier today. "The blockade of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh has cut off the transport of food–fuel–medicine and other vital supplies–creating a humanitarian crisis requiring the US to send emergency life-saving assistance to Armenia. Armenia is landlocked–and the Soviet-era infrastructure routed 85 percent of Armenia’s goods–as well as vital energy supplies–through Azerbaijan. That life-line is now cut off."
In his remarks–Rep. Pallone questioned the wisdom of the Administration’s efforts against Section 907 and its proposed increase in US aid to Azerbaijan in light of Azerbaijan’s refusal of the most recent OSCE peace plan–known as the "common state" proposal. "Despite some serious reservation–the elected governmen’s of both Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia have accepted this common state proposal in a spirit of good faith–to get the negotiations moving forward. And what was Azerbaijan’s reaction to the proposal from the Untied States and our negotiating partners? An unqualified ‘NO’."
In conclusion–Rep. Pallone–who has consistently led Congressional calls for a balanced US foreign policy in the Caucasus region–expressed his "hope that Secretary Albright and the State Department will reconsider their plan to repeal Section 907. I hope this Congress will reject this effort–as we have done for years."
Secretary Albright Renews Call for Repeal of Section 907
Rep. Pallone’s statement follows remarks by the Secretary of State in which she repeated her call for the repeal of the ban on US aid to Azerbaijan. In her May 20th testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations–Albright stated: "We renew our request this year for legislation to repeal Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. This provision hinders our ability to advance America’s national interests in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus. Eliminating it would restore balance to our policy toward Azerbaijan and Armenia–and reinforce our role as an honest broker in the peace process." YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–President Robert Kocharian Wednesday urged the Diaspora to become a more active participant in national affairs–stressing that the upcoming Pan-Armenian Athletic Games would serve as one of the better means by which homeland-Diaspora relations could be strengthened.
In meeting with the executive committee of the Pan-Armenian Games–Kocharian stressed that an effort was underway to make the Diaspora a more active participant in events being organized in Armenia.
Pan-Armenian Games committee chairman Ashot Melik-Shahnazarian briefed the president on the activities of the committee.
In turn–Kocharian pledged that the authorities would take part in all organizational facets–to ensure a successful start for what he hoped would become a tradition for Armenia’s.