Congressional Sign-On Letter Calls for Sniper Withdrawal, Additional Observers, Deployment of Gunfire Locators.
WASHINGTON, DC – Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY) of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee are asking their Congressional colleagues to join a bipartisan call for renewed U.S. leadership in keeping the peace along the Nagorno Karabakh line of contact, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The two senior legislators are currently collecting Congressional signatures on a letter addressed to Ambassador James Warlick – the U.S. representative to the OSCE’s Minsk Group tasked with reaching a resolution of Nagorno Karabakh-related security and status issues. In their letter, they specifically call for the U.S. and OSCE to abandon their 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 letter proposes three concrete pro-peace steps that would, “in the short-term, save lives and help to avert war. Over the longer term,” the letter notes, “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.
Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh have both expressed support for these life-saving initiatives; Azerbaijan has not.
“We want to thank Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Engel for their leadership in keeping the peace, averting war, and promoting a durable and just negotiated settlement of status and security issues related to Nagorno Karabakh,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We join with Armenia and Artsakh in supporting each of their three concrete peace-keeping proposals, and welcome – in the wake of yet another round of Azerbaijani aggression – their principled advocacy for replacing the U.S. and OSCE’s failed policy of artificial evenhandedness with an accountability-based approach to peace-keeping.”
The ANCA Royce-Engel action alert is available at: http://www.anca.org/nkpeace
Schiff to Warlick: “The Cause of Peace is Not Served by Ignoring Azerbaijan’s Increasing Belligerence”
In a related move, U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-CA) has called upon the State Department to refrain from responding to future acts of Azerbaijani aggression with statements suggesting a “false equivalence between Azeri and Armenian behavior. In a letter sent this week to Ambassador James Warlick, the State Department’s representative to OSCE Minsk Group peace process, Representative Schiff warned that any “unwillingness to speak plainly about the aggressor in this conflict sends the message to Azerbaijan that it can act with impunity.”
Congressman Schiff stressed that, while he joins with Ambassador Warlick in seeking a peaceful and durable resolution to the Karabakh issue, “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.”
Text of Royce-Engel Congressional Sign-On Letter to Ambassador Warlick
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.