Spring 1998 (6.1)
by Hafiz M. Pashayev
Azerbaijan is very concerned about recent events in Armenia and their implications for the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan. After former President Levon Ter-Petrossian accepted the peace proposal put forward by the three Minsk Group co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) specifically Russia, France and the U.S., the hardliners within Armenia forced the President and Speaker of Parliament to resign from office.
So now, rather than being on the verge of a peace proposal to settle the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, we have in effect a coup d'etat against the OSCE peace proposal.
Make no mistake about it, President Ter-Petrossian's removal from office was forced. Days before he announced his resignation, his Deputy Interior Minister and his Chief of Personal Security survived assassination attempts. All of this came about because of President Ter-Petrossian's belief that compromise was necessary to settle the conflict with Azerbaijan. These actions halting the OSCE are directly contrary to the interests of the United States government, which stated on January 26, 1998
"The actions taken by the
government of Armenia in the context of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh
are inconsistent with the territorial integrity and national
sovereignty principles of the Helsinki Final Act. Armenia supports
Nagorno-Karabakh separatists in Azerbaijan both militarily and
Let me speak now about the U.S. Congress' denial of direct American assistance to the government of Azerbaijan. It has been five years since the enactment of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act (FSA), a section of law that prohibits direct American assistance to the government of Azerbaijan.
What has been achieved by this provision? Nothing positive, that's for sure. It has impeded development of bilateral relations between the United States and Azerbaijan; it has made Armenian forces (which currently occupy 20 percent of Azerbaijan) more reluctant to endorse compromise OSCE peace proposals; and it has hampered the ability of the U.S. to act as an impartial intermediary in this conflict.
In fact, the Congressional support of Section 907 means, in the words of Congressman Peter King, that Azerbaijan is the only non-terrorist state in the world deprived from U.S. humanitarian assistance.
But consider, what has taken place in Azerbaijan during these five years during which U.S. aid has been denied?
Given these facts, it seems clear to me that 1998 should be the year in which Congress repeals Section 907. In the last two years, it is true, Congress has liberalized Section 907 by allowing aid to be designated in Azerbaijan for programs designed to combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction and for democracy-building efforts, and for efforts related to activities of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Trade and Development Agency, and the Foreign Commercial Service.
But the fact remains, over 1 million Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons created by the Armenian offensives still are not eligible for direct U.S. humanitarian assistance. That means no U.S. aid for health care or education or for programs to help implement free market reforms.
It should be clear to all members
of Congress that Section 907 is contradictory to American foreign
policy goals and objectives. It has been strongly opposed by
both the Bush and Clinton Administrations. Almost every significant
American foreign policy expert opposes Section 907. The international
community as well condemns the Armenian aggression in the several
resolutions passed by the United Nations. But worst of all, Section
907 tilts American foreign policy toward Armenia, the aggressor,
and against Azerbaijan, the victim of that aggression.