WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the Department of State’s decision denying the sale of military equipment to Azerbaijan.
On May 29, Berman wrote Secretary of State Clinton requesting that military equipment not be sold to Azerbaijan.
“This decision by Secretary Clinton is in the best interests of the Armenian people and for peace in the region,” said Berman (D-CA) upon receiving the modified formal notification late on June 27th that the sale removes Azerbaijan from the list of countries that would be eligible to purchase this equipment.
The Department of State had proposed adding Azerbaijan to the authorized sales territory for military equipment that would be used in helicopter-borne border surveillance and “police-type” activities. Berman expressed his concern that such equipment could be used to facilitate identification of Armenians and Armenian forces for attack.
Shortly after Rep. Berman sent that letter, Azeri forces attacked and killed Armenian soldiers along that border.
Upon learning of the attack earlier this month, Berman said: “I am deeply disturbed by press reports about a brazen, unwarranted cross-border attack by Azerbaijan that resulted in the tragic deaths of three Armenian soldiers and the wounding of five others. This outrageous action underscores the critical importance of preventing the recently proposed sale of U.S. military equipment to the Government of Azerbaijan – a sale I recently requested Secretary Clinton to halt. Aside from the possible military application of this equipment against Armenia, such a sale would send entirely the wrong message to Azerbaijan, particularly in light of this horrifying incident.”