Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Sen. Menendez Introduces Bill to Protect and Provide Aid to Armenians in Armenia and Karabakh

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WASHINGTON — Today Senator Robert Menendez introduced a Bill “Supporting Armenians Against Azerbaijani Aggression Act of 2023,” to protect and provide humanitarian assistance to Armenians in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of the brutal and unjust actions taken by the Government of Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).

The bill covers a spectrum of pertinent and swift actions that can be taken by the Administration in the aftermath of Azerbaijan’s illegal and unprovoked attacks on the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh, from calling on Azerbaijan to open the Lachin Corridor to providing humanitarian assistance to imposing sanctions to ceasing waivers of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, as well as appropriating funding for future partnerships between the US and Armenia.

“It is the sense of Congress that Azerbaijan is conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh and the United States and the international community have a responsibility to provide immediate humanitarian support,” the Bill stated, emphasizing that Azerbaijan’s blockade on the Lachin Corridor “threatens the lives and well-being of all people inside Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Government of Azerbaijan must immediately open the humanitarian corridor to allow for the flow of goods…and restore unfettered humanitarian access to the region” while also calling on the Government of Azerbaijan to “immediately release all Armenian prisoners of war.”

The humanitarian assistance for Armenians in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh highlighted in the Bill would be appropriated to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for fiscal year 2024 in the amount of $30,000,000 to “provide humanitarian assistance to groups in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh impacted by the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, Azerbaijan’s September 2022 attack on Armenia, and Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin Corridor.”

The Bill also contains language to provide $10 million in Foreign Military Financing assistance to Armenia to “support Armenia’s independence, joint training and exercises with the US, and train Armenian forces for future international peacekeeping operations.”

Imposing sanctions on Azerbaijan regarding the Aliyev regime’s clear attempts at ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh is also specified, as well as the government’s “operations that instigated the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War; attacks on Armenia in September 2022; the blockade of the Lachin Corridor beginning in December 2022; attacks on Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023.”

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Accountability for Azerbaijan’s atrocities against the Armenian people is also underscored in the Bill and requests that the “Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a detailed report regarding alleged Azerbaijani atrocities during its attacks on Armenia in September 2022 and on Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023…including war crimes and crimes against humanity that Azerbaijani forces committed.”

Finally, the Bill highlights the importance of protecting the rights of the Armenian people in Nagorno-Karabakh and requests that the Secretary of State “shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a detailed strategy to ensure the durable security for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh” that incorporates the “rights and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh” as well as the “establishment of accountability measures to ensure the rights and security of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh in the event that the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan reach a peace agreement” as well as “support for the protection of Armenian cultural heritage sites in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

“In the face of Azerbaijan’s clear continuation of its genocidal policies and the ongoing targeting of civilians in Artsakh, we welcome this bipartisan Bill spearheaded by Chairman Menendez,” said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “It is imperative that the US hold Azerbaijan accountable for its crimes and ensure much-needed humanitarian aid is delivered without hinderance or conditions to the people of Artsakh.”

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