SACRAMENTO – Fifteen California State Assembly and Senate members sent a letter to the Californian representation in the United States Congress calling for an end to US assistance and funding to Azerbaijan after the attacks on Tavush, Armenia, in July 2020. Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, who spearheaded this initiative, provides its background.
The letter, dated August 3, is signed by members of the Armenian Caucasus in the California legislature as well as other supporters. Nazarian said that in general, if there is an important issue on the national level, such letters asking for support from the California delegation are sent, but that usually they concern domestic topics like health care or criminal justice reform. Foreign policy does not fall under the jurisdiction of the state level, so this, he said, was an act “purely of advocacy.”
He declared, “My goal is to make sure that a) I raise awareness and advocate, and b) I continue the conversation with follow-ups and see what some of these individuals have to say on the topic. Given that the name on the letterhead is that of an Armenian American, it could potentially get a second look and at least pique curiosity or interest in seeing what the issue is about, and then lead to engagement. This is just getting your foot in the door. On the secondary level, there is also the responsibility of the elected officials who are receiving the letter.”
Those recipients, he said, may have significant Armenian communities in their region or district, or the issues may resonate with them because they also come from backgrounds which have made them sensitive to such issues. Ultimately, he said that his goal was to let the recipients know that there are people in their home districts paying attention to what is going on internationally.
He noted that “given the dynamics of what is going on right now in the world and our country, and added to that the complications of this pandemic, it would be understandable that peoples’ focus is not where it needs to be.”
Nazarian said that as the sole Armenian-American elected official on a state level in California he felt a responsibility to take this step. He pointed out that aside from the effect on Congress, it could indirectly have other long-term consequences. The signatories of the letter themselves become better versed on the issues, and as they may in the future run for other offices, including in Congress, they will then take that reinforced awareness with them.
This was why, he said, the letter encapsulates a little bit of context on what has been going on, who the aggressor has been, and tries to explain it from the perspective of why we as the United States are actually siding with the aggressor. He concluded, rhetorically, “Where did we lose our way so as not to be engaged with protecting those who are very much being aggressed?”