U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Blames “Aggressive Armenians” for Scuffle at L.A. Protest
BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
The U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Earle Litzenberger blamed what he called “aggressive Armenians” for a scuffle that erupted between Armenians and Azerbaijanis on Tuesday during a demonstration organized by the Armenian Youth Federation in front of the Azerbaijani Consulate in Los Angeles.
“There is irrefutable evidence,” Litzenberger said “that the recent provocation in Los Angeles was committed by aggressive Armenian demonstrators.”
He made the comment during a meeting with Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov, according to a report published on Friday in the Azerbaijani News.az, which cited the Foreign Ministry as its source.
According to the news report, Litzenberger expressed his “deep regret” over the incident and added that the leadership of the local Los Angeles law enforcement agencies supposedly offered their apologies for “the Armenian provocation there, as well as for the fact that it could not stop it.”
He assured Khalafov that appropriate measure would be taken against the Armenians and pledged “additional measures to ensure the security of Azerbaijan’s diplomatic missions in the U.S.”
The violent incidents during Tuesday’s protest were provoked by the 25 to 30 Azerbaijanis who had gathered at the consulate with specific intent to disrupt the peaceful demonstration, which was organized to protest Azerbaijan’s brazen attacks on Armenia’s Tavush Province that began on July 12. In fact, the Azerbaijanis began throwing water bottles at the Armenian protesters inciting scuffles, during one of which a L.A. Police sergeant was unwittingly injured.
Comments made by Litzenberger, who was not at the Tuesday’s protest but had decided that “aggressive Armenians” were to blame for the violence, presumably prompted the U.S. embassies in Yerevan and Baku to take the unusual step of issuing a joint announcement that decries violence during stateside protests.
“The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan and the U.S. Embassy in Baku condemn acts of violence as inconsistent with the universal principles of peaceful assembly and protest. The United States takes seriously its obligation to protect diplomatic facilities and is working with local law enforcement to support this effort. Freedom of speech and peaceful assembly are protected by the U.S. Constitution, however, acts of violence will be addressed by law enforcement as appropriate. We call on all demonstrators to engage peacefully and exercise restraint,” said the cryptic announcement.
“Today’s statement by our US ambassadors in Azerbaijan and Armenia – sadly – reflects the flawed false-parity of generic OSCE calls for mutual restraint in the face of clearly one-sided Azerbaijani aggression,” Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian wrote in a Twitter post on Saturday.
“Today’s statement by our US ambassadors in #Azerbaijan and #Armenia – sadly – reflects the flawed false-parity of generic @OSCE calls for mutual restraint in the face of clearly one-sided Azerbaijani aggression.” – Aram Hamparian, @ANCA_DC pic.twitter.com/BWWpSVwse8
— ANCA (@ANCA_DC) July 25, 2020
Evidently the U.S. embassies in Yerevan and Baku, and specifically Ambassador Litzenberger, are unaware of the violence that has been unleashed against Armenians by Azerbaijanis in different countries around the world. The burning of a vehicle belonging to the Armenian Embassy in Berlin, can be deemed a manifestation of the anti-Armenian hatred, as can beating up Armenians in front of Armenia’s Embassy in London. Where’s the pledge to “ensure the security” of Armenian missions?
United States ambassadors are charged to protect American interests in different countries. Their mission is not to become apologists for the countries where they are stationed nor should they take sides in conflicts that the host country has with another. Furthermore, it falls outside of diplomatic norms to single out a group of American citizens and pit them against another.