Rep. Frank Pallone, left, with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

Rep. Pallone Visits Armenia

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YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — US Rep. Frank Pallone, the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Frank Pallone, visited Armenia earlier this month, where he met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II and also visited Artsakh.

The Prime Minister welcomed the congressman’s visit to Armenia and Artsakh and expressed confidence that this visit would further strengthen Mr. Pallone’s relationship with the Armenian people. The head of government praised the congressman’s activity in the development of Armenian-American relations, in raising the Armenian issues. The Prime Minister also referred to his visit to California and expressed confidence that it will give new impetus to the expansion of cooperation in various areas between our country and one of the largest states in the United States.

Welcoming Frank Pallone’s visit to the Mother See, the catholicos said he appreciated the latter’s consistent efforts aimed at strengthening the Armenian-American relations and the attention towards difficulties Armenia is overcoming.

The two spoke about the situation in the Middle East and the reducing Christian community. They also discussed the efforts towards the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict, the challenges facing Armenia and state-church relations.

On October 4, he gave an interview to Armenpress, in which he said he welcomed the democratic developments in Armenia following the Velvet Revolution. He stressed that the US

“I think we should provide no military aid to Azerbaijan, since Azerbaijan is very aggressive and demonstrated that aggression in 2016. They should get no military assistance from the USA. We, the members of the Congress, did not know that the amount of the military assistance to Azerbaijan was so large, over $100 million in the last three years. And that’s much more than the assistance provided to Armenia. And traditionally, under the section 907 of the Freedom Support Act you cannot provide military assistance to a country that has been actively aggressive, like Azerbaijan was in April 2016,” Pallone said. “And the letter we have sent to the Department of State and Department of Defense we said that no military assistance should be provided to Azerbaijan, and we would like to know the justification for providing military assistance when you cannot do that. There is a paradigm that whatever you do for one country, you have to do the same for the other country. But I don’t say that we should give hundreds of millions of dollars of military assistance to the two countries, since we want peace, we do not want to encourage war. At this moment we are very upset that Trump’s administration has done that, but we want them to stop giving money to Azerbaijan. We also want to know what were the justifications for that, because we don’t know it and we investigate the issue now and we think it might be a violation of the Section 907.”

Rep. Frank Pallone with Catholicos of All Armenian Karekin II

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He also spoke about his visit to Artsakh, where he met with two organizations, Halo Trust and the Caroline Cox Rehabilitation Center.  “This is an organization that helps children with disabilities. This is another important direction of our assistance,” he said.

The future of Artsakh should be clear, he added. “Artsakh has to be Armenian. I would like to see a peaceful settlement which the OSCE Minsk Group is trying to achieve. The peaceful settlement has to guarantee not only the fact that Artsakh is Armenian, but also it’s important the issue of the territories which are important for Armenia for security reasons.”

Pallone spoke about his love for Armenia.

“I have been to Armenia several times. I like this beautiful country where there is very much to see, the cultural activities.  But I think Armenians have many similarities with Americans; they believe in democracy, they believe people should get education and all should have equal opportunities in life. And a reason that I am particularly happy for the velvet revolution is that Armenia moves more in that direction. We also went sightseeing in Armenia, had a breakfast at Sevan Lake, saw the katchkars (cross-stones) and the churches of Sevan.”

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