US can respond to Azerbaijani regional aggression with sanctions – Hamparian
YEREVAN, OCTOBER 3, ARMENPRESS. Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) gave an interview to ARMENPRESS on the recent visit of US Congressmen to Armenia, the Armenian-American relations, projects aimed at the international recognition of Artsakh and the Armenian Genocide, and other issues.
Mr. Hamparian, recently the US Congress delegation visited Armenia. What can you say about this visit by summarizing its results, how will it affect the Armenian-American relations?
Visits such as this, coordinated by the Armenian Embassy, play a constructive role in strengthening U.S.-Armenia relations, and also in broadening understanding among legislators of the serious security challenges the Armenian homeland faces from both Ankara and Baku.
During the discussions on the sidelines of the visit, strengthening of the economic relations between the two countries was especially stressed. Touching upon particularly the double tax treaty between the US and Armenia, what prospects exist for its signing in your opinion and how will it contribute to advancing bilateral economic relations?
As a growing number of U.S. corporations are making clear, a modern, working U.S. Double Tax Treaty is needed to remove artificial barriers to the growth of mutually-beneficial U.S.-Armenia bilateral trade and investment. This is a win-win scenario, a practical, achievable priority that can and will be realized with the constructive engagement of officials in Washington, DC and Yerevan and all the key stakeholders in the U.S.-Armenia commercial partnership.
Another important subject of the discussions was the Republic of Artsakh. The Congressmen visited Artsakh, mentioned that they will continue efforts towards the international recognition of Artsakh, however after the visit some of the Congressmen unsurprisingly appeard in the Azerbaijani “black list”. Nevertheless, how will you comment on such behavior of Azerbaijan, can it to some extent have any impact of the American-Azerbaijani relations?
We are very encouraged by the great work of the ANC of Michigan in securing this state's recognition of the Artsakh Republic's independence, and - of course - by recent efforts in the Senate and House to prioritize continued direct U.S. assistance to Artsakh. They will also, by all accounts, appropriate more aid for Armenia than was requested by the Administration. These efforts, alongside sister-city projects and many other recognition-based initiatives, face strong Azerbaijani opposition, but are, slowly but surely, bending the arc of U.S. policy toward America's core value of democratic self-determination.
During these years the ANCA has always realized various programs, aimed at the international recognition of both the Armenian Genocide and Artsakh. These programs have regularly had supporters. I would like to know what work has been done in the recent period in these two directions?
We hosted a Congressional screening for "The Promise" earlier this year, and, just this week, organized a VIP showing of "Architects of Denial" in Washington, DC - featuring remarks by Executive Producers Dean Cain and Montel Williams, both of who joined us for a series of Congressional meetings and major media interview. The number of U.S. House cosponsors is now close to 100 and our support in the Senate continues to grow.
On September 27 we were informed that Congressmen Chris Smith and Jim McGovern presented a bill in the House of Representatives which implies sanctioning high level Azerbaijani officials. Mr. Hamparian, what developments can we expect in this direction?
We are encouraged that - in the wake the Senate Appropriations Committee's recent adoption of the Durbin Amendment sanctions on Baku - we will see growing bipartisan Congressional support for openly and assertively challenging Azerbaijan's worsening domestic crackdown, and will work to see its regional aggression treated in a similar manner, with sanctions, visa restrictions, and other costs and consequences.
I would like to also touch upon another question, the May 16 attack on protesters in Washington D.C. by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail, after which arrest warrants were issued for 12 people in Washington. At what phase is the legal process now?
Amazingly, Turkey's foreign minister, during his recent visit to America, photographed himself praising two of those indicted and jailed for their role in this attack. Rather than showing remorse, the Erdogan government is doubling-down, seeking to make heroes of violent assailants and to demonize those whose only crime was to peacefully protest on American soil.
Interview by Syuzi Muradyan