ArmInfo. Pressing for specific actions to reverse current Aliyev and Erdogan regime patterns of blatantly anti-democratic policies, in testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Armenian Assembly highlighted the "ongoing existential threats, intimidation, and blockade by authoritarian regimes" faced by Armenia and Artsakh, noting that their democracies are at stake.
"Today's testimony comes at a critical time as the Armenian people yet again are confronted with the specter of ethnic cleansing and genocide," stated the Assembly's testimony by Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. Noting that as delicate peace negotiations are underway under international auspices, the autocratic leader of Azerbaijan has ramped up his conditions by demanding that the Armenians of Artsakh forgo their democratic institutions, and that their leaders "turn themselves in."
The Assembly highlighted the concerns raised by the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention, which implored President Joe Biden and Secretary Antony Blinken "to fully consider the implications of ignoring existing early warning systems and genocide prevention protocols by rewarding Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev for his threats against Armenia," as well as the "long-term catastrophic implications" beyond Armenians "for international peace and security" by "[r]ewarding a dictator who has publicly threatened genocide." The Assembly's testimony highlighted that "to this day, Azerbaijan continues its ruthless war, with ongoing border incursions in violation of Armenia's sovereignty and boasting that `[w]e have destroyed Armenia.'"
"History has shown that appeasing dictators only serves to further embolden them," stated Ardouny and emphasized that the "Assembly's position is clear: stand up for democracy and human rights and oppose genocide; stop providing aid to Azerbaijan by imposing sanctions starting with the enforcement of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act." The Lemkin Institute also rightly expressed concerns that "threats to Armenia's continued existence" are being used "as a stick to force it to agree to very lopsided agreements" in the peace negotiations, or else "face Azeri and Turkish aggression alone."
The Artsakh Foreign Ministry for its part stated that "[t]he fact that the Azerbaijani president has once again resorted to open threats and outright blackmail leaves no doubt that Azerbaijan consistently denies the very possibility of resolving the Azerbaijani- Karabakh conflict through negotiations."
The Assembly reiterated its position "that any peace agreement must be acceptable to the people of Artsakh, and as it has done so in the past, urges Congress and the Administration to uphold the fundamental principles of democracy, the right to self- determination, and the universal human rights of the people of Artsakh." The Armenian Assembly also noted "with deep concern the May 30, 2023 press statement by U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller that the U.S. welcomes `President Aliyev's recent remarks on consideration of amnesty'" and urged "an immediate correction, if not a retraction." With respect to Turkiye, the Assembly reminded the Committee that the "Erdogan regime, despite previously espousing a policy of "zero problems" with its neighbors, continues to deny the Armenian Genocide, and in the recent presidential elections candidates touted slogans calling for isolating Armenia (which it already blockades) and diminishing its democracy."
Citing Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray's and Vice Chair Susan Collins's support for "standing up for democracy around the world," the Assembly urged "robust assistance to buttress the democracies of Armenia and Artsakh," $100 million and $50 million, respectively.
The Assembly also expressed its appreciation to Congress "for its longstanding assistance to Armenia and Artsakh, including the "1988 earthquake in Armenia, as Armenia moved boldly toward independence in 1991, during Artsakh's struggle for freedom and democracy, and through America's proud record of humanitarian intervention during the 1915 Armenian Genocide and the historic passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in December of 2019 in the United States Senate."
Recalling S.J.Res. 128, bipartisan legislation that condemned Azerbaijan's violent actions noting that "Azerbaijani forces have destroyed Armenian villages and depopulated Armenian areas in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in violation of internationally recognized human rights," the Assembly highlighted that it reconfirmed "the commitment of the United States to the success of democracy and self-determination," and "sent a clear message supporting the aspirations of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and principles of which, the Armenian Assembly has consistently supported." "The Assembly was proud then as it is now to stand in support of democracy, human rights and freedom for Artsakh and Armenia," stated Executive Director Bryan Ardouny in his testimony.