On this Armenian Independence Day, I stand in solidarity with the Armenian people – the survivors of the first genocide of the 20th century – during this extraordinarily painful and precarious time. Last week’s unprovoked attacks by Azerbaijan were yet another direct assault on Armenia’s sovereignty, and an appalling escalation of the Azeri violence that has devastated the Armenian people over the past two years. My heart breaks for those whose families and loved ones have been lost, for those who have been displaced, and for those who are living in fear every day of the next attack or invasion.
The terrible tragedy is that these attacks – and indeed, the war and ongoing aggression of the past two years – could have been prevented, if the international community, and the United States, had condemned the clear instigator in this conflict, Azerbaijan, instead of using the language of false equivalence. If Azerbaijan had been called out for its continual acts of aggression in the past, President Aliyev may not have felt emboldened to expand his attacks on Armenia and Artsakh. Time and time again, the world has failed to hold Aliyev accountable for his belligerence, creating an environment in which he believes he can invade internationally-recognized Armenian towns and territories with impunity.
That’s why it is essential for the United States to not just condemn Azerbaijan and its leader for this naked war of aggression, but to take immediate and meaningful action to stop it. My fellow co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues have crafted legislation that would cease all assistance to Azerbaijan. And I believe we must go even further – cutting off the Aliyev regime permanently, and exploring sanctions. I will continue to work with my colleagues to develop additional legislation in response to Azerbaijan’s ongoing disregard for international legal standards in its unprovoked, unjustified, and unlawful attacks against Armenia and Artsakh.
This bloody war must finally be stopped, once and for all, political prisoners must be released, and there must be justice and accountability for the war crimes committed by Aliyev and his enablers. Today and every day, I stand proudly with the people of Armenia and Artsakh, and especially with my constituents in the Armenian community. Their strength and resilience have been one of my greatest inspirations during my time in public service, and I am honored to be their voice in Congress.