U.S.-Shooting Itself in the Foot
Section 907 of Freedom Support Act
"To be blunt, 907* has done nothing to bring us closer to a lasting peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Politically, Section 907 and related provisions are an impediment to our making progress on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, to our ability to work effectively with Azerbaijan on the East-West Eurasian transport corridor and to the ability of U.S. firms to do business in Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani government is strongly pro-U.S. It is being helpful to us on Caspian energy questions, on [nuclear] non-proliferation, on Iranian terrorism-and on Nagorno-Karabakh. Section 907 has limited, and will continue to limit, the expansion of U.S.-Azerbaijani relations-and all, to no useful purpose."
Ambassador Stephen Sestanovich, Ambassador-at-Large and Special Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State for the New Independent States, speaking before the Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives, April 30, 1998, on the U.S. Policy Toward the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Editor:"907" refers to Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1992. This law bans direct aid to the Azerbaijan government. The Freedom Support Act was passed to facilitate economic and humanitarian aid to the former republics of the Soviet Union, trusting that such assistance would help stabilize democratic forms of government and foster economic growth. All republics of the former Soviet Union receive this aid, with the exception of Azerbaijan.
This restriction with its distorted logic and wording against Azerbaijan was initiated by the Armenian lobby in retaliation to Azerbaijan's cutting off one of the rail routes that carried supplies and fuel to Armenia. At that time, Armenians were aggressively at war with Azerbaijanis who considered it national suicide to provide supplies to neighbors that were carrying out military action against them.
Subsequently, Armenians occupied roughly 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory by military force-land which they still hold [Nagorno-Karabakh and seven regions beyond].
Azerbaijanis consider this piece of U.S. legislature grossly unfair as it rewards Armenians as aggressors and treats them, the victims crushed by the economic burdens of territorial devastation with the social burden of approximately 1 million refugees and displaced citizens, as the only nation on earth to which the U.S. denies direct humanitarian aid. Since enactment of the 907, the U.S. Congress has given about $1 billion to Armenia in aid, but only $100 million to Azerbaijan and then, only through non-governmental agencies, mostly American. Armenia's population is 3.5 million; Azerbaijan's is 7.5 million.
From Azerbaijan International (6.2) Summer 1998.
© Azerbaijan International 1998. All rights reserved.