Azerbaijan International

Winter 2001 (9.4)
Page 13

Reader's Forum
Setting the Record Straight

Letter to the Editor published in the Washington Times, December 28, 2001

History Sheds Different Light on U.S. Sanctions Against Azerbaijan Allow me to make several points regarding your December 23 editorial "The Importance of Armenia and Azerbaijan".

As you state, Americans are not very knowledgeable about realities in the region. This is especially true with regard to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as to the consequences of Armenian aggression against my country. It is an internationally established fact that Armenia has occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, turning almost a million of my compatriots into refugees and internally displaced persons [IDPs]. Yet even experts writing on these issues sometimes present a distorted picture of the situation, be it intentionally or involuntarily.

Lack of knowledge is the main reason why the powerful Armenian lobby has succeeded in misrepresenting the cessation of normal trade relations, quite natural between two warring parties, as a blockade. Thus, it misled the U.S. Congress into adding insult to injury and passing Section 907 of the 1992 Freedom Support Act, containing sanctions against Azerbaijan. [The U.S. Congress singled out Azerbaijan from all of the 15 former Republics of the Soviet Union and has denied all direct aid to the Azerbaijani government for the past decade].

Despite the opposition to 907 by successive U.S. administrations [Bush 1992, Clinton 1993-2000], it was only after September 11, 2001 that U.S. [Congressional] policy on this matter was reconsidered.

As far as Armenia's "admirable restraint" and "gracious response to the relaxation of U.S. sanctions against Azerbaijan" are concerned, I would like to set the record straight. After September 11, the President of Armenia himself went on record viciously opposing any modification of Section 907. At the same time, a high-ranking Armenian delegation was dispatched to Washington to enforce this position.

We do welcome the Bush Administration's engagement in the process of peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. And the Congressional decision to provide the President with authority to waive 907 is an important step toward making this engagement truly unbiased. That is precisely the sort of U.S. involvement in world affairs that is needed to counter the aggressive separatism that, merged with international terrorism, threatens to destroy our values and way of life.

Finally, with respect to both Armenian-Azerbaijani and Turkish-Armenian relations, I believe the only way to settle these kinds of disputes is to look to the future, not appeal to what took place or is claimed to have taken place in the past.

Hafiz Pashayev, Ambassador of Azerbaijan
Washington, D.C.

Editor: Curiously, there seems to be a surge of interest in traditional music instruments lately and people have found us through our Web site - We have included email addresses so that our readers can more adequately reply to the inquiries below:

Azerbaijan International (9.4) Winter 2001.
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