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Congressional Letter Calls for Removal of Snipers, Additional Observers, Investigative Mechanisms Along Karabakh-Azerbaijan Border

FLArmenians Action, R-E letter

By Taniel Koushakjian
Florida Armenians Managing Editor

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) are circulating a bipartisan letter asking their Congressional colleagues to support renewed U.S. leadership in the South Caucasus.

The two senior legislators are currently collecting signatures on a letter addressed to Ambassador James Warlick, U.S. representative to the OSCE’s Minsk Group which is responsible for mediating a resolution of the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh. The Royce-Engel letter specifically calls for the U.S. and OSCE to abandon the failed policy of false parity in responding to acts of aggression, noting that: “The longstanding U.S. and OSCE practice of responding to each new attack with generic calls upon all parties to refrain from violence has failed to de-escalate the situation. Instead, this policy of artificial evenhandedness has dangerously increased tensions. There will be no peace absent responsibility.”

The legislators propose three concrete steps that would, “in the short-term, save lives and help to avert war. Over the longer term,” the letter says, “these steps could contribute to a comprehensive and enduring peace for all the citizens of the region:”

Specifically, the Royce-Engel letter calls for:

  1. An agreement from all sides not to deploy snipers along the line of contact;
  2. The placement of OSCE-monitored, advanced gunfire-locator systems and sound-ranging equipment to determine the source of attacks along the line of contact; and
  3. The deployment of additional OSCE observers along the line of contact to better monitor cease-fire violations.

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the governments of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh have both pledged their support for these confidence-building measures, while Azerbaijan has repeatedly opposed them.

FLArmenians Action, R-E letter

Click on the image to send an email to your Representative urging them to sign the Royce-Engel letter.

TAKE ACTION NOW 

Thirty-five members of Congress have signed the Royce-Engel letter to Ambassador Warlick, including Armenian Caucus Vice-Chair Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). In addition to the House Foreign Affairs Committee leadership, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA) are also supportive.

In fact, Congressman Schiff wrote a separate letter to Ambassador Warlick last week warning that “unwillingness to speak plainly about the aggressor in this conflict sends the message to Azerbaijan that it can act with impunity.” “I do not believe the cause of peace is served by ignoring Azerbaijan’s increasing belligerence and the suggestion that both parties are equally to blame for violence along the Line of Contact when that is not the case,” Schiff’s letter states.

TEXT OF THE ROYCE-ENGEL LETTER TO AMBASSADOR WARLICK:

The Honorable James Warlick
U.S. Co-Chair
OSCE Minsk Group

Dear Ambassador Warlick:

We are writing out of concern over the escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in deaths on both sides of the conflict. It is our hope that the United States, through its role in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group, as well as through direct diplomacy with both Armenia and Azerbaijan, will immediately advocate for several steps to promote peace in the region.

We believe that securing the full and public support of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Nagorno-Karabakh for the following steps would, in the short-term, save lives and help to avert war. Over the longer term, these steps could contribute to a comprehensive and enduring peace for all the citizens of the region.

  • An agreement from all sides not to deploy snipers along the line of contact.
  • The placement of OSCE-monitored, advanced gunfire-locator systems and sound-ranging equipment to determine the source of attacks along the line of contact.
  • The deployment of additional OSCE observers along the line of contact to better monitor cease-fire violations.

We also urge you to publicly condemn specific acts of aggression along the line of contact. The longstanding U.S. and OSCE practice of responding to each new attack with generic calls upon all parties to refrain from violence has failed to de-escalate the situation. Instead, this policy of artificial evenhandedness has dangerously increased tensions. There will be no peace absent responsibility.

Thank you for your consideration of these recommendations. We continue to support your efforts to reach a durable and just resolution to this conflict and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Ed Royce (R-CA); Eliot Engel (D-NY); Gus Bilirakis (R-FL); Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU0); Dave Brat (R-VA); Tony Cárdenas (D-CA); Judy Chu (D-CA); David N. Cicilline (D-RI); Katherine Clark (D-MA); Jim Costa (D-CA); Jeff Denham (R-CA); Robert J. Dold (R-IL); Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA); Scott Garrett (R-NJ); Richard L. Hanna (R-NY); Joe Heck (R-NV); Jim Langevin (D-RI); Dan Lipinski (D-IL); Zoe Lofgren (D-CA); James P. McGovern (D-MA); Grace Napolitano (D-CA); Devin Nunes (R-CA); Frank Pallone (D-NJ); Mike Quigley (D-IL); Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA); Peter Roskam (R-IL); Linda T. Sanchez (D-CA); Loretta Sanchez (D-CA); John P. Sarbanes (D-MD); Adam Schiff (D-CA); Brad Sherman (D-CA); Jackie Speier (D-CA); Dina Titus (D-NV); Dave Trott (R-MI); David G. Valado (R-CA); Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Peter Welch (D-VT)

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Posted on October 9, 2015, in General Update and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Stop undermining Armenian history and sovereignty.

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