WASHINGTON–DC–Citing several recent instances of war rhetoric by a national news source in Azerbaijan against both Armenia and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR)–US Rep. Frank Pallone–Jr. (D-NJ) today called on Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliev to condemn such war mongering–as well as renounce military action. Pallone–co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues–made his request today in a letter to President Aliev.
Pallone said that in recent months Azerbaijan’s media has been inundated with war rhetoric that even President Aliev described on the nation’s TV Channel One as "propaganda" and warned that media should not "exaggerate it." In his letter to President Aliev–Pallone said he was particularly concerned over reports from Azerbaijan’s Turan News Agency stating that Aliev and his subordinates initiated a propaganda campaign in order to divert public attention away from domestic politics.
"These calls for war–including such shocking calls as to ‘set up suicide battalion from homeless children,’ do nothing more than to re-ignite xenophobia and extremism of the kind that in the last decade led to barbaric pogroms and violence against Armenia’s of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR)," Pallone wrote in his letter.
"A restart of military action against NKR can only be seen now as an aggression against a fully functioning–democratic state," Pallone continued in his letter to Aliev. "I witnessed NKR’s democracy in action during my visit there in August of 2002 when I was a monitor for the presidential election."
Pallone stated that besides his eyewitness accounts 50 international election observers also witnessed the elections and confirmed its full conformity with democratic principles. The British Helsinki Human Rights Group–in particular–proclaimed–"elections were superior to many internationally- recognized and approved polls."
"Against the odds and the aggressive posture of your country–the people of Nagorno Karabakh have made tremendous strides towards a free and fair society," Pallone continued. "I have been disappointed that the same cannot be said for your country.There have been widespread international media reports that the vote on the constitutional referendum that was held in Azerbaijan was nothing more than an orchestrated action by your government to hold onto power. The Azeri public deserves to be heard in a democratic society–not misinformed and disenfranchised for political purposes.
"Attempts to stoke anger and fear in the international community will not shake the bond between the peoples of the Republics of Armenia & Nagorno Karabakh and the American people," Pallone continued in his letter. "The values that are shared between us–democracy–human rights and market reform – are not simply words to periodically utter. They are real bonds that foster the respect and admiration that Armenia’s and Americans have for each other. The Armenian-American relationship of shared values should serve as an example for Azerbaijan–and should be fully considered before continuing your aggressive stand towards Armenia and NKR.
"I strongly urge you and your subordinates to heed the calls of the international community to renounce military action and condemn war mongering. Only through a true commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict can Azerbaijan show the international community that it is making meaningful progress in becoming a modern–democratic society," Pallone concluded.