WASHINGTON—“I believe personally that the United States should recognize Nagorno-Karabakh. I certainly would be willing to do whatever I can to have that happen,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, in a recent interview with the Armenian Reporter.
The New Jersey Democrat also told the Reporter’s Washington Editor Emil Sanamyan that Nagorno-Karabakh has every right to be an independent nation. “So, what you really need to do is to have the State Department change its position,” said Pallone in the interview.
The Congressman also explained that recent statements—with a clear biased toward Azerbaijan and Turkey—by Minsk Group co-chairman Matthew Bryza reflected current State Department policy on Nagorno-Karabakh, adding simply that the State Department was “wrong.”
“They [the State Dept.] have to realize that according to the Soviet legal framework, Nagorno-Karabakh had self-government and certain rights, including holding a referendum and becoming an independent country, which is what had happened,” explained Pallone in the interview.
“So it’s not simply an issue of territorial integrity versus self-determination. Nagorno-Karabakh is a successor state to the Soviet Union, and no different from Armenia or Russia in that respect,” Pallone told Sanamyan.
“At this pivotal moment in the Nagorno Karabakh peace process, with the State Department applying unprecedented pressure on Armenia to accept the fatally flawed Madrid principles that would—if adopted—cement Armenia into a structurally vulnerable position in the region, we are pleased to see Congressman Pallone, once again, articulating the view of the Armenian Caucus that the U.S. should get back on the right side of what is fundamentally an issue of democracy, by formally recognizing the independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
Pallone went on to call the Karabakh situation a “powder keg,” adding “…if you do not work to solve this situation and come up with a compromise, there is a potential for another major war in the Caucasus that would have major implications for several neighboring countries, Turkey and Russia especially. And that this strategic concern must be appreciated.”
On the matter of recognition, Pallone said: “…it will be difficult, because a lot of members of Congress are not that familiar [with the subject], I assume that the State Department would be against it, and I am not sure how much Armenia itself would be pushing for it. So it would probably be hard to do.”