ArmInfo. "I can only imagine how painful the events of the past week have been for the Armenian people," USAID Administrator Samantha Power told a press conference in Yerevan.
"To see Armenian communities attacked, to be cut off from your families and loved ones in Nagorno- Karabakh. To not know their fate, to read of potentially dire shortages of food, medicine and fuel. I know this crisis is particularly painful given how the world has failed to protect Armenians in the past. This morning, I visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial and laid a wreath at the eternal flame. Not only to honor the memory of those killed and forced from their homes more than a century ago, but to remember our shared duty to stand up for one another's safety, dignity, and cultural heritage.
"So today, Prime Minister [Nikol] Pashinyan and I discussed how the United States can support the Armenian people, both in the immediate term in Nagorno-Karabakh, and going forward as Armenia safeguards its sovereignty and territorial integrity, strengthens its democracy, and builds prosperity towards people.
"First and foremost, we are calling on Azerbaijan to maintain the ceasefire and take concrete steps to protect the rights of civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh. President [Ilham] Aliyev has promised to guarantee the rights of ethnic Armenians. Azerbaijan must live up to that promise, and more than that, and critically, the world must be able to verify that Azerbaijan is living up to that promise. All parties should allow for an international humanitarian assessment, and a monitoring presence on the ground to track Azerbaijan's adherence to its commitments and provide real time reporting to the international community. And vitally, Azerbaijan must permanently and fully reopen the Lachin Corridor to passenger, commercial, and humanitarian traffic. The promises to protect the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh will remain hollow until civilians are allowed to leave and return at will. Until shipments of food, medicine, and supplies are able to reach communities. And until humanitarian actors, like USAID, are given the access we need to meet urgent humanitarian needs.
"Since hostilities reignited in 2020, the United States has provided more than $24 million in humanitarian and development assistance in response to the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh - helping provide food, water and sanitation, medical care, child protection, psychosocial support, and emergency response. Tomorrow, I will announce additional humanitarian assistance. Already, we are providing essential supplies like household and hygiene kits, blankets, and clothing to support people who have left their homes in Nagorno- Karabakh and need help right now. We are at the ready to provide food, cash, legal support, shelter, and protection services to those in need of assistance. We are working closely with local authorities who are providing supplies, and local communities who have opened up their hearts and their homes to those fleeing the violence.
"The people living in Nagorno-Karabakh deserve an end to violence, they deserve to live in safety, and they deserve to maintain their Armenian cultural connections and the ability to move back and forth as they choose. The United States will continue to engage with Azerbaijani and Armenian leadership at the highest levels in pursuit of a lasting peace. And as we look to the future, we will also continue our partnership with the people of Armenia to cement democratic gains and drive economic growth, so that the latest attacks do not undermine the remarkable progress that Armenia has made in recent years.
"I want to commend Prime Minister Pashinyan and the Armenian people for the democratic reforms you have led since citizens rose up in 2018 and demanded change. You have taken on corruption, and opened up space for civil society and independent media to voice opposition and to hold leaders accountable. In fact, just last week, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Secretary of State Blinken and I hosted Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan at an event to spotlight progress of democratic reformers around the world, and to shine a spotlight on the reforms that have been undertaken here in Armenia.
"We at USAID are deeply committed to supporting this progress. We are supporting the establishment of a specialized anti-corruption court and investigative agency. We are working with the Government of Armenia to identify and reduce the bureaucratic hurdles that Armenian citizens and businesses face when accessing government services. All told, the United States has provided $3.3 billion since 1992, to support the people of Armenia, and we are committed to deepening this partnership every day.
"Armenia has made historic strides to assert its independence and sovereignty, to fight for democracy, to build economic opportunity for its communities, to safeguard its ability to live in dignity and peace - which is fundamental. As you Armenians continue this path of progress, even through the latest crisis, please know that you have a friend and a trusted partner in the United States," Samantha Power said.
The full transcript of Samantha Power's press conference in Armenia is available here: https://www.usaid.gov/news-information/speeches/sep-25-2023-administrator-samantha-power-press- conference-armenia?fbclid=IwAR3G-_W_cvE- CgqZCKnfqKsuyTNs0clrSsHfb609GNYcBjSEjsrPnBZN6s4