BY ARAM HAMPARIAN
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov recently rejected as “ridiculous” common-sense calls for the Artsakh Republic to take part in talks to determine the status and security of its people.
Take a minute.
Think that one all the way through. Azerbaijan’s corrupt, undemocratic, family-run Aliyev dictatorship categorically ruling out a voice for the free citizens of Artsakh in deliberations about their own lives and liberties.
Want to know what’s really ridiculous?
The one-sided terms of the OSCE Minsk Group’s “Madrid Principles,” which call for upfront, strategic, territorial, and irrevocable concessions by Artsakh in return for deferred, vague, and reversible promises from Azerbaijan.
This deeply flawed plan asks Armenians to suspend not only our reason but our very instinct for self-preservation:
- Believing that Artsakh surrendering vast areas of its territory will somehow make Artsakh more secure or Azerbaijan less aggressive.
- Believing that upfront land concessions by Artsakh will be followed by Azerbaijan forfeiting its claim of sovereignty over Artsakh.
- Believing that Azerbaijan’s offer to restore Artsakh’s (Soviet-era style) “autonomy” will lead to peaceful and sustainable coexistence.
- Believing that international peace-keepers deployed around Artsakh will actually risk their lives to block renewed Azerbaijani attacks.
- Believing that it’s a fair deal to front-load Artsakh’s strategic concessions while deferring Azerbaijan honoring its vague (and reversible) promises.
- Believing that Artsakh should be the subject to the terms of an international agreement that was reached without its full participation.
We need to challenge each of these reckless assumption, or risk being led – step by step – down the path to Artsakh’s surrender.
We cannot allow Artsakh’s hard-fought victory – the triumph of democratic self-determination, and a vital key to Armenia’s long-term viability – to be slowly undone.
- Ground away by international pressure.
- Explained away by establishment “experts.”
- Given away through quiet acquiescence.
Informed and inspired by the lessons of our own history – and understanding all too well Azerbaijan’s openly aggressive aims – we know intellectually and instinctively – that the work of our generation must be to collectively consolidate, not unilaterally concede, Artsakh’s freedom.
We need not accept the false choice of surrender or survival.
The Madrid Principles do not represent a path to peace, they are a recipe for renewed war.
The true choice, our only choice, is to defend Artsakh’s democracy.
Here in the United States, within the political arena, we are doing just that, battling Aliyev’s army of lobbyists to generate U.S. support – in policy, practice, and principle – for the Artsakh Republic’s independent status and inviolable security. We ardently support the OSCE Minsk Group as a platform, while aggressively opposing the deeply flawed Madrid Principles, actively challenging Azerbaijani aggression, promoting accountability for attacks along the line of contact, and fostering a broader, pro-peace dialogue between the U.S. and Artsakh.
You’ve seen the ANCA’s results:
- The ANCA spearheaded aid to Artsakh, making the U.S. the only country that has (since FY98) provided such assistance (over $45,000,000), helping Artsakh with maternal health care, clean water, and de-mining, while also representing a form of implicit U.S. recognition of Artsakh’ independence.
- The ANCA supported passage of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act (opposing all attempts to eliminate or weaken this law), which establishes as U.S. policy (although currently waived) that Azerbaijan must take demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
- The ANCA stopped Matt Bryza’s nomination to serve as Ambassador to Azerbaijan due to his clear pro-Aliyev bias, earning attacks against the ANCA by name by both the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal editorial boards.
- The ANCA has challenged the pro-Azerbaijan Madrid Principles, which call upon Artsakh and Armenia to make up-front, irrevocable strategic/territorial concessions in return for deferred, vague, and reversible promises from Azerbaijan.
- The ANCA, using political, policy, and legal avenues, helped block a potential Israeli sale of Iron Dome to Azerbaijan.
- The ANCA secured bipartisan Congressional and OSCE Minsk Group support for the Royce-Engel peace proposals, spearheaded by the leadership of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, calling for the removal of snipers, deployment of additional monitors, and placement of gunfire-locators.
- The ANCA worked with Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone to expand bilateral dialogue and visits through the U.S.-Artsakh Travel and Communication Resolution.
- The ANCA has reframed the Artsakh issue away from the reckless “land now, for status later” dynamic, toward peace (via the Royce-Engel proposals) and dialogue (via the U.S.-Artsakh Travel and Communication Resolution).
- The ANCA worked to secure state-level recognition of the Artsakh Republic by California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, and Rhode Island.
Moving forward, with your help we will continue to advocate for Artsakh on all fronts:
- Promoting regional peace, via Royce-Engel proposals (gunfire locators, withdrawal of snipers/heavy arms, more observers).
- Promoting dialogue, via the U.S.-Artsakh Travel and Communication Resolution and Artsakh’s full return to all OSCE Minsk Group negotiations.
- Supporting Congressional and other official U.S./ international travel to Artsakh.
- Expanding state recognition of Artsakh beyond California, Georgia, Hawaii, Lousiana, Maine, Michigan, and Rhode Island.
- Seeking progressive American recognition of Artsakh, via direct U.S. aid, sister cities, state actions, and visits.
- Opposing potential Iron Dome sale to Azerbaijan on the basis of U.S. arms export control laws.
- Supporting H.Res.537 and other Azerbaijan sanctions due to Baku’s corruption, crackdowns, and regional aggression.
- Tracking the next Azerbaijan ambassadorial nomination, and scrutinizing the new nominee.
- Opposing Azerbaijan’s candidacy for World Trade Organization membership, based on its illegal blockades and regional aggression.
On each of these issues, and many others, the ANCA fights every day for Artsakh, Armenia, and the views and values of the Armenian American community.
Aram Hamparian is the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America