WASHINGTON — The Armenian Assembly welcomed the passage of bipartisan legislation spearheaded by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). S. 3000, the Armenian Protection Act of 2023 repeals the waiver authority to Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025. Section 907 states that U.S. funds “may not be provided to the Government of Azerbaijan until the President determines and so reports to the Congress, that the Government of Azerbaijan is taking demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“We commend Senator Peters along with Senator Rubio for this bipartisan legislation,” stated Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan. “Passage of this Bill sends a strong message in the face of Azerbaijan’s genocidal policies against the Armenian people,” Khaloyan continued.
Peters, who traveled to Armenia this September upon his return, at an Assembly event honoring former Secretary of the Navy Paul Ignatius, stated that he was “going to encourage more of the colleagues in the Senate” to support the Armenian people and for “repercussions” to take place against Azerbaijan’s Aliyev regime. Senator Peters called on the Administration to “impose sanctions” on Azerbaijan and to enforce Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act. “I’m doing everything I possibly can to make sure the Armenian people are able to have their human rights protected and live with dignity,” said Senator Peters. “We need to send a strong signal to Azerbaijan that what they did is simply unacceptable.” Last month, the St. John Armenian Church and the Michigan Chapter of the Armenian Assembly hosted a luncheon meeting and briefing with Senator Peters and members of the Armenian Community, wherein Peters made clear that he recognizes how critical the situation is on the ground and emphasized that the “U.S. must help ensure that the Armenians from the region receive humanitarian assistance and that the U.S.must stop all military assistance to Azerbaijan.”
A senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a lead sponsor on a resolution condemning Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and ongoing human rights violations, Senator Marco Rubio has been a staunch supporter of Armenian issues. Senator Rubio along with Senator Peters also joined a bipartisan bicameral letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen calling upon the Administration to impose Global Magnitsky sanctions against Azerbaijan.
The Assembly has repeatedly called for sanctions to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its genocidal policies, and in the Assembly’s testimony yesterday before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe stated that “Azerbaijan should not be rewarded for their continued assault against the Armenian people, but rather sanctioned” and highlighted that the “U.S. has many tools at its disposal to do so from the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and economic sanctions to trade restrictions and the enforcement of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act,” along with the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act.
The passage of this Bill in the Senate by voice vote is significant with more action needed given Azerbaijan and Turkey’s ongoing aggression against the Armenian people. The next step in the legislative process is for the House to take up the measure.