Washington DC – Senior House Foreign Affairs Committee member Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), praised a recent vote by the Council of Europe regarding violence in Nagorno-Karabakh. The resolution, which was voted down, would have called for a process to work on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute under the Council of Europe that did not include the U.S. Prior to the vote, Congressman Sherman sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging opposition to the resolution.
Congressman Sherman stated that he had phone discussions over the weekend with diplomats including the Acting Assistant Secretary for European Affairs John Heffern, and the ambassadors to the U.S. from a number of European countries. He added that he commends the State Department for working to oppose this resolution. A resolution which would have called for the substitution of the existing Minsk Group with a process under the Council of Europe that did not include the U.S. The United States is invested in the Minsk Group process, co-chaired by the United States, France and Russia, which remains the best forum to work towards a peaceful and equitable solution for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“I was pleased to see the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe rejected a proposed resolution that would have sidelined the United States in the effort to bring peace to the Caucasus,” said Congressman Sherman. “I commend the State Department for working to oppose this resolution. I will continue to stand by Artsakh and Armenia in their ongoing quest for peace and security.”
A copy of the letter sent to Secretary Kerry from Congressman Sherman can be seen below:
January 22, 2016
The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520
Re: Council of Europe – January 26 Vote – Nagorno-Karabakh
Dear Secretary Kerry:
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe intends to vote January 26 on a Resolution entitled “Escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan.” I urge you to oppose any move by the Council of Europe to declare the Minsk Group a failure and call for the Council of Europe to take over. The Minsk Group is a much better forum to mediate the dispute. This attempt to destroy the Minsk Group is bad for the course of peace in the Caucasus.
Doing away with the Minsk Group is not only bad policy but an insult to the American people and to the hard working and dedicated diplomats at the State Department. For generations, the people of Europe have urged America to be involved in Europe. In the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of Americans died to bring peace to Europe. Now we are being told that a group chaired by France, Russia, and the United States should be dislodged and a new group, without any involvement of the U.S., should take over.
The United States has dedicated diplomats from Colin Powell and Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh, to Hillary Clinton and Ambassador Bill Burns, through John Kerry and Ambassador Jim Warlick, to bring peace to the Caucasus. Declaring that the United States State Department cannot be helpful in this effort is also an insult to the diplomats who have been involved in the Caucasus, and all of the diplomats in the United States State Department.
In addition, the Resolution is terrible Caucasus policy. It was basically written by Azerbaijan. It is so far from balanced that it will set back the peace process.
I know the U.S. has stated its opposition to the resolution being contemplated. I urge you to redouble these efforts over the next few days.
Member of Congress
cc: Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland