Pallone: “I am here because I want to make it clear that Artsakh is a state, a democratic nation”
STEPANAKERT, SHUSHI– Congressional Armenian Caucus founding Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), upon his arrival Tuesday in Artsakh, underscored the importance strengthening U.S. ties with Artsakh, a legislative priority that he is advancing in Washington through H.Res.190, a bipartisan measure seeking to remove barriers to expanded U.S.-Artsakh travel and communication, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“I am here because I want to make it clear that Artsakh is a state, a democratic nation,” Congressman Pallone told Republic of Artsakh National Assembly Chairman Ashot Ghulian and Parliamentary leaders. “And, it is very important to have as many contacts as possible between the United States and Artsakh.” The Congressman, earlier this year, introduced H.Res.190, which would also restore Artsakh’s role in all OSCE peace talks. The measure currently has 25 cosponsors.
“Congressman Pallone most recent visit to Artsakh shines a spotlight on H.Res.190,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “His common-sense legislation paves the path to peace by clearing away senseless State Department restrictions that stand in the way of the very sort of dialogue and diplomacy needed to reach a durable and democratic resolution of status and security issues between Artsakh and Azerbaijan. We need more talk, more travel, more dialogue, and more diplomacy – not less. We need to let our diplomats be diplomats. We need to pass H.Res.190.”
Pallone arrived in Artsakh Tuesday, accompanied by Nagorno Karabakh Republic Representative to the U.S., Robert Avetisyan, and several members of the Armenian Parliament. He met with Artsakh President Bako Sahakian, Foreign Minister Massis Mayilian, National Assembly Chairman Ashot Ghulyan, and key Parliament leaders.
At his meeting with President Sahakian, the two discussed the prospects of advancing Artsakh-U.S. relations, the ongoing efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and challenges facing the region in general.
President Sahakian thanked Pallone and his colleagues for their continuous support of Artsakh and for the pro-Artsakh legislative measures that have been put forth by him and his colleagues.
Pallone was also hosted by Artsakh Parliament Speaker Ashot Ghulyan and other members of parliament at the legislative chamber.
The importance of legislative exchange efforts were highlighted and Pallone had a first-hand opportunity to speak to Artsakh legislators, who welcomed his and his colleagues’ efforts in Congress to ensure Artsakh’s security and advancing communications with the outside world, especially the opening of the Stepanakert Airport as a means to allow the people of Artsakh seamless access to the world.
Similar issues were discussed when Pallone met with Artsakh Foreign Minister Mayilyan, who emphasized the critical role the United States plays in shaping international opinion about Artsakh and the potential of positive efforts by Congress to elevate Artsakh’s position in the international community.
Mayilyan also highlighted the role the Armenian-American community has played and continues to play in advancing Artsakh’s right to self-determination. Both Pallone and Mayilyan said the instituting “friendship city” relations with US municipalities, as well as working with states that have recognized Artsakh’s independence will broaden Artsakh-American cooperation.
At Pallone’s request, Mayilyan presented the latest developments on the Karabakh conflict resolution process and the situation on the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border, commonly referred to as the line of contact. In this context, the sides touched upon the recent provocations initiated by the Azerbaijani side on the Line of Contact. According to the sides, these incidents reconfirm the urgency of the establishment of international mechanisms to monitor adherence to the ceasefire agreement.
He also travelled to Shushi, where he visited the Artsakh army’s battalion headquarters, Ghazanchetsots Armenian Church, and the Artsakh Carpet Factory. Prior to his departure for Armenia, on Wednesday, plans to visit U.S. government funded humanitarian projects.
Congressman Frank Pallone has traveled to Artsakh more than any other Member of the U.S. Congress. In the days leading to his travel to Armenia and Artsakh, he was joined by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Vice-Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) in calling on the secretaries of Defense and State to immediately halt all U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan, conduct a review of Section 907, and report to Congress on all defense-related assistance to Azerbaijan.
“I don’t think we should be giving any military assistance to Azerbaijan, because every indication is that they would use it – the likelihood is that they would use it against Armenia,” Rep. Pallone told Parliamentarians.
Representatives Speier and Judy Chu (D-CA) are scheduled to visit Artsakh over the next several days.