Letter to President Obama from the U.S. Azeris Network (USAN)
Board of Directors regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process
Washington, D.C. -- In light of a flurry of activity regarding the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict -- a region of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia -- with statements and phone calls by President Obama, statements by the Presidents of Russia and France, OSCE Chairwoman-in-Office and OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen, as well as aggressive and unhelpful rhetoric emanating from the radical Armenian groups in U.S. and abroad, the Board of Directors of the U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) has sent a letter to President Obama today (enclosed below and available for download and printing here).
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July 24, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C., 205000
Dear Mr. President:
With foreign policy and relations with the world taking a center stage, particularly with the Eurasian region and Muslim world in special focus, we welcome your active engagement to settle the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict, to depoliticize the Armenian claims against Turkey, and to engage Turkey more in the Caucasus peace process, as well as increase trade, economic and other relations between the regional nations.
As Azerbaijani-Americans, we greatly appreciate your joint declaration with Presidents of France and Russia, your phone calls about NK conflict with President Aliyev and President Gul, the reinvigorated work of the OSCE Minsk Group of which U.S. is a co-chair, the more equitable and fair foreign assistance FY2010 requests in line with previous years requests. We urge you, Vice President Biden, Secretary Clinton and your Administration to step up such positive efforts in the future, as well as visiting the U.S. strategic ally Azerbaijan to witness the challenges and effects of the occupation of 16% of Azerbaijan and displacement of some 12% of its population by Armenia.
Per our statement in The Washington Post on the day of your inauguration as President of the United States on January 20, 2009, the Azerbaijani-Americans and the U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) pledge their support and readiness to be consulted and look forward to working on any issue related to our community and to the Caspian region by your Administration and Congress, matters which are important for the community and the country, its prestige, standing and image in the world, give the Azeri-Americans, a minority community, a greater voice in national affairs.
As described in the statement by the Azerbaijani-American community leaders adopted unanimously on October 2, 2008 at the USAN conference in Washington, D.C. (enclosed with this letter), Azerbaijani-Americans aspire to restore peace, justice and fairness in the South Caucasus region and see U.S. play a role of an independent, influential, unbiased and fair broker. This wish is seconded by all ethnic Azerbaijanis worldwide, who view U.S. favorably and positively.
Our key aspiration is the liberation of all occupied Azerbaijani lands through the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. We believe that one of our most important objectives as a community of people tracing their heritage to the land of Azerbaijan is to educate our government and lawmakers to assist in enhancement of the bilateral ties between Azerbaijan and the United States. Azerbaijani-Americans support the long-term strategic allied relations between the United States and Azerbaijan, and we fully encourage the development of bilateral cooperation between America and all Turkic nations.
Hence, we welcome your positive steps in resolving the NK conflict, and offer you our full support in light of relentless criticism from ultranationalist and maximalist Armenian special interest groups that have built their entire raison d’etre on creating and perpetuating only negativism, hatemongering and intimidation.
With this said, we want to remind that it is Armenia that is occupying Azerbaijan for almost two decades now, not the other way around, and it is Armenia that caused almost a million Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs, and according to U.S. Government, committed “crimes against humanity” in Azerbaijan, such as the largest war crime in the region, the Khojaly Massacre in 1992. Armenia’s creation of a straw-man in the form of the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR)”, an entity recognized by no one, including its own creator, is especially unhelpful to the peace process and causes nothing but irritation and tensions in the region. With multiple U.S. Government statements clearly calling a spade a spade, and with the U.N. Security Council adopting four resolutions calling for the immediate withdrawal of Armenian military forces from Azerbaijan, to restore the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan and the well-being of its people, these are not “concessions” as the Armenian side improperly labels them, but necessary preconditions of the international law and the will of the people all around Armenia, to restore justice and fairness.
It should be further stressed once again, that we all fully and unequivocally support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. No question about it, NK has to remain part of Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, we also recognize the other Helsinki Final Act principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, which are envisioned within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and have been agreed to by the Armenian President in Moscow last year.
Per equal rights and the participation of interested parties to the conflict, indeed, the engagement of Karabakh's ethnic communities in negotiations is an absolute must for reestablishing peace in that region. In fact, the conditions for an equal engagement of all parties in the conflict were already enshrined in the "Baker Rules" proposed in 1992 by the first peacemaking mission of the CSCE Minsk Group, led by then U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker III. These rules, agreed to by all sides, recognized the two ethnic communities of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan as the "interested parties", and Armenia and Azerbaijan – as the "principal parties".
However, the radical Armenian lobby organizations stop short of mentioning the ethnic Azerbaijani community, which prior to the conflict in 1988 comprised a third of Nagorno-Karabakh's population and 99% of the population of the seven other, surrounding and currently occupied, regions of Azerbaijan. It shall be understood that while the present conditions of Armenia's military occupation preclude the participation of Karabakh's ethnic Armenian community in the peace process, a lasting peace in Nagorno-Karabakh can only be achieved after the return and peaceful co-existence of the region's both ethnic communities, cessation of all occupation, and moving away from constant and continuous attempts to stonewall the peace process, intimidate elected officials, and attempt to preserve the status quo of continuous military occupation.
Mr. President, we recognize that the challenges our nation faces are very serious. Likewise, we realize the complexities of the South Caucasus region and the challenges faced by our ancestral homeland. We, as stakeholder representatives, are committed to doing our part to make the peace, reconciliation and normalization a reality. We stand ready to work with you to accomplish this goal.
Adil Baguirov, Ph.D. Bedir Memmedli, CPA Yusif Babanly, MBA
Managing Director Treasurer and Director Secretary and Director
Jayhun Mollazade, Ph.D. Bob Guney, M.D. Nigar Gasimova, M.D.
Director, Eastern Region Director, Western Region Director, Southern Region
Azer Tebrizli, Ph.D., Mehriban Afandiyeva
Director, Northern Region Director, Eastern Region
The following statement was adopted via voting by the leaders of the Azerbaijani-American Diaspora at the U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) annual high-level conference in Washington D.C. on October 1-2, 2008. The U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) <http://www.USAzeris.org/>, is a registered non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian genuine grassroots advocacy and voter education network that is facilitating political activism and efforts by the Azerbaijani-Americans and other Turkic-Americans and their associations, organizations, councils, conferences, and other formal, semi-formal and informal groups, on federal, state and local levels. USAN is the first nationwide grassroots organization uniting Azerbaijani-Americans, being created by the grassroots, for the grassroots.
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October 2, 2008
Statement by the Azerbaijani American Diaspora Leaders
As the members of the Azerbaijani-American Community committed to peace, prosperity, harmony and sharing of the same democratic values in the development and strengthening of bilateral relations between the United States and Azerbaijan, we note with great satisfaction that all the members of the Azerbaijani-American Diaspora are able to freely express opinions and ideas, and come to a unified position;
In light of this, we recognize the need to set our agenda for the next year and the years to come in order to be able to work more effectively with the next U.S. Administration and Congress, thus creating better understanding of the aspirations of Azeri Americans by the U.S. executive and legislative branches. One of the key aspirations is the liberation of all occupied Azerbaijani lands through the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. We believe that one of our most important objectives is to educate the American policy- and lawmakers to assist in enhancement of the bilateral ties between Azerbaijan and the United States;
We support the long term strategic allied relations between the United States and Azerbaijan and we fully encourage the development of bilateral cooperation between the United States and Azerbaijan in a variety of areas ranging from energy security to trade and investment, cultural and educational exchanges, humanitarian and charitable links, social and political relations. We also encourage U.S.-assisted modernization efforts undertaken in Azerbaijan, and more extensive targeted technical aid;
We support the unity of Azerbaijani-American organizations towards a common goal of furthering the influence of ethnic Azerbaijanis and other Turkic peoples in the U.S. public and political life.
This statement was approved by the overwhelming majority voice and hand vote on the second day of October, year two thousand and eight, in the capital of the United States of America, the City of Washington, District of Columbia.
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The U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) <http://www.usazeris.org/> is a registered non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian genuine grassroots advocacy and voter education network that is facilitating political activism and efforts by the Azerbaijani-Americans and other Turkic-Americans and their associations, organizations, councils, conferences, and other formal, semi-formal and informal groups, on federal, state and local levels. USAN is the first nationwide grassroots organization uniting Azerbaijani-Americans, being created by the grassroots, for the grassroots.