WASHINGTON, DC – As Congress reconvened this week House and Senate negotiators released their final Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with the House adopting the must-pass legislation for the 62nd consecutive year. The Armenian Council of America welcomes the inclusion of language in the FY23 NDAA that “condemns violations of the cease-fire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan and states that continued detention of prisoners of war in violation of the laws of war and international commitments is unacceptable.”

An explanatory statement accompanying the bill text calls the use of force or threat of the use of force “to pursue diplomatic or military objectives” is “completely unacceptable.” The statement calls on Azerbaijan to “return all POWs and immediately release all captured civilians.”

In light of Azerbaijan’s continued military escalation, from launching the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) War, to the recent September 2022 offensive on the Republic of Armenia’s sovereign territory, and Congress’ condemnation of these illegal acts, the Armenian Council of America calls on the Biden Administration to rescind the waiver authority it granted and to fully enforce U.S. sanctions on Azerbaijan as outlined Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act. The Armenian Council of America joins Armenian Americans in calling on the Biden Administration to send a group of U.S. observers to Armenia and for the Biden Administration to work with the European Union and the United Nations to secure a mandate for a peacekeeping force along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border as well as Artsakh-Azerbaijan border to help prevent another genocide.

The explanatory statement further reiterates that the “report on Azerbaijan” as contained in the FY22 NDAA “is already required” and that “the report was due 180 days after the date of enactment, but the Department of Defense has not yet submitted the report to the relevant congressional committees. The Department must deliver this report as soon as possible.”

In addition to calling out the Republic of Azerbaijan’s illegal activities and gross human rights violations, the annual defense bill indirectly addresses the Republic of Turkey’s persistent violations of the Republic of Greece’s internationally recognized airspace, as both members are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The FY23 NDAA “Declares that a NATO ally should not conduct unauthorized territorial overflights of another NATO ally’s airspace.”

“For the second consecutive year, Congress has called on Azerbaijan to release all Armenian POWs and civilians illegally held in captivity in its marquee annual U.S. defense policy bill,” stated ACA Board Chairman Sevak Khatchadorian. “The U.S. can and must hold the Aliyev regime accountable until all Armenian hostages held by the brutal dictator in Baku are released,” Khatchadorian said.

As a grassroots organization, ACA is dedicated to working with all political leaders, offering Armenian related news, analysis and resources for policymakers, media, students and activists, advocating issues important to Armenian Americans. The ACA also aims to strengthen U.S. – Armenia and U.S. – Artsakh ties, the development of programs promoting sustainable economic growth and good governance in Armenia, while promoting the values and responsibilities of global citizenship.

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