WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) led a bipartisan letter to Lou Bono, the State Department’s Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations, to express serious concern about Bono’s reported remarks during a recent trip where he ruled out using sanctions against Azerbaijan in response to Baku’s transgressions against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).
Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has imposed a blockade of the Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia. The effect has been devastating to the population, rendering 120,000 individuals without access to food, medical supplies, consistent gas and electricity, and essential human rights such as freedom of movement. Tens of thousands have been left without heating amid plummeting winter temperatures, which forced schools to close and deprived children of access to education.
“We are deeply concerned by your reported comments during the trip ruling out the use of economic and diplomatic sanctions against Azerbaijan for their clear aggression…As 120,000 innocent people remain deprived of their basic rights in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) for a third month… this is not the time to take any tools off the table,” the members wrote. “These are only the most recent examples of Azerbaijan’s belligerence, which has followed a well-documented pattern of war and provocation against Armenia and Artsakh, motivated by the bombastic rhetoric of President Aliyev and his regime. We have long passed the time for continued appeasement of Azerbaijan.”
In February, the International Court of Justice ordered Azerbaijan to lift the blockade – an order Baku has ignored as it continues to try and leverage the humanitarian crisis to seek concessions from Armenia.
“The United States, the President of the United States, the U.S. State Department, and entire Administration must use all tools at its disposal to ensure the safety of the people of Artsakh, now and in the future, including cessation of financial support to Azerbaijan and imposition of sanctions. We cannot allow Azerbaijan’s policy of aggression and intimidation to continue,” the members wrote.
The letter was signed by the following Members: Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fla.), John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Ted W. Lieu (D-Calif.), Brad Schneider (D-Calif.), David G. Valadao (R-Calif.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.), Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Haley M. Stevens (D-Mich.), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.), Kevin Mullin (D-Calif.), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington).
Read the full letter here.