Politics 11:51 22/01/2021 Region

US Secretary of State nominee Blinken voices support for Armenia and Artsakh

U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as Secretary of State, Antony Blinken – in written responses submitted following his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – expressed support for U.S. funding to meet the security needs of Armenia and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in and around Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“We welcome Secretary-designate Blinken’s commitment to renewed U.S. leadership that supports the security needs of Armenia and the protection of Artsakh” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “In the wake of months of reckless U.S. indifference to Azerbaijan’s relentless aggression, we look forward to constructive, responsible engagement by the Biden-Harris Administration on the full range of issues of special concern to Americans of Armenian heritage and our many coalition partners.”

In four detailed responses to Questions for the Record submitted by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Blinken voiced support for “the provision to Armenia of security assistance and aid to strengthen democratic governance and promote economic growth, both of which will help to strengthen Armenia’s security and resilience.” He added that: “In light of the recent outbreak of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, our administration will review our security assistance to Azerbaijan”, noting that, “if the circumstances warrant, the Biden-Harris administration will be prepared to suspend waivers of requirements under section 907 of the Freedom Support Act.” In three of his responses, he underscored his commitment to “working with Congress and the Secretary of Defense to determine the appropriate level of assistance to meet the security needs of Armenia and the region.”

In response to a question by Chairman Menendez regarding U.S. reengagement in the OSCE Minsk Group process in a way that advances “a sustainable peace that reflects the interests of Armenians, not just Aliyev, Erdogan, and Putin,” Blinken stated that he will “reinvigorate U.S. engagement to find a permanent settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that protects the security of Nagorno-Karabakh and helps to ensure another war does not break out. This includes stepping up our engagement via the Minsk Group, of which the United States is a co-chair, and additional diplomatic work to prevent any further interference by third parties.”

The full text of Secretary-designate Blinken’s responses are provided below.

Armenia and Azerbaijan

Sen. Menendez: If confirmed, will you commit to funding humanitarian assistance programs to help the ethnic Armenians in the south Caucasus affected by Azerbaijan’s attack last fall? Will you commit to restoring funding for demining in Nagorno-Karabakh?

Blinken: I am deeply concerned by the renewed hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan last fall and the ongoing humanitarian needs in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. I strongly support U.S. funding for demining efforts in Nagorno-Karabakh. If confirmed, I will also work with Congress, as well as USAID, international organizations such as the UN, and our allies and partners to meet humanitarian needs in the region.

Sen. Menendez: How can the U.S. help Armenia, and ethnic Armenians in their efforts to defend themselves throughout the South Caucasus, from Azerbaijan and Turkey’s aggression?

Blinken: I support the provision to Armenia of security assistance and aid to strengthen democratic governance and promote economic growth, both of which will help to strengthen Armenia’s security and resilience. In light of the recent outbreak of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, our administration will review our security assistance to Azerbaijan. If confirmed, I look forward to working with Congress and the Secretary of Defense to determine the appropriate level of assistance to meet the security needs of Armenia and the region.

Sen. Menendez: As an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, how do you plan to reengage in the peace process and work towards a sustainable peace that reflects the interests of Armenians, not just Aliyev, Erdogan, and Putin?

Blinken: The President has said the United States should be leading a diplomatic effort to find a lasting resolution to the conflict, working together with our European partners, and should push for international humanitarian assistance to end the suffering. If confirmed, I will reinvigorate U.S. engagement to find a permanent settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that protects the security of Nagorno-Karabakh and helps to ensure another war does not break out. This includes stepping up our engagement via the Minsk Group, of which the United States is a co-chair, and additional diplomatic work to prevent any further interference by third parties.

Sen. Menendez: Considering Azerbaijan’s aggression in last fall’s conflict, do you plan to waive Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act and provide assistance to the Government of Azerbaijan? What is your view of providing security assistance to Azerbaijan?

Blinken: In light of the recent outbreak of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Biden-Harris administration will review our security assistance to Azerbaijan. If the circumstances warrant, the Biden-Harris administration will be prepared to suspend waivers of requirements under section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. If confirmed, I look forward to working with Congress and the Secretary of Defense to determine the appropriate level of assistance to meet the security needs of Armenia and the region.



Source Panorama.am
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