By Christine Aghakhanian
In a recent interview with Massis Post, Representative Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) discussed the US government’s lackluster stance on condemning Azerbaijan’s unprovoked attacks on Armenia and Artsakh and presented steps to prevent another large-scale attack on the Armenian people.
“I have been in constant communication with the Biden administration to urge that we cut off Azerbaijan from any further funding, that we explore sanctions on Azerbaijan for war crimes and that we use all of our diplomatic power to marshal the international community against the blockade of the Lachin corridor, as well as prevent another outbreak of war,” said Congressman Schiff. “I have never been more concerned than I am today, that Azerbaijan may be planning another war against Armenia, more than we have seen before. I am also working on legislation that we hope to introduce soon, to recognize the independence of Artsakh,” he added.
Congressman Schiff conveyed his thoughts on both the Biden and Trump administration’s stance on Baku’s aggression towards Armenia and Artsakh, emphasizing his disappointment on their lack of ability to fully stand with the Armenian people.
“The Biden administration was the first administration ever, to recognize the Armenian Genocide. That was something I was working towards. For twenty years I carried the Genocide resolution in the House which finally passed in 2019 and the president’s recognition followed sometime thereafter,” the Congressman asserted. “I think the Biden administration is more engaged in the region, but I am still not satisfied because one thing we have seen across administrations of both parties, is this false language of equivalence, where both sides are called upon to refrain from violence when there’s only one aggressor and that’s Azerbaijan. When we use language of false equivalence, it encourages the aggressor and the aggressor comes to believe they will never be held accountable. I have been trying to stop funding for Azerbaijan for years and this has been a problem under both administrations,” he added.
Schiff believes the US can take tangible steps to change the trajectory of Baku’s plans to wage war on Armenia and ethnically cleanse Artsakh, adding that the first step is to stop funding Azerbaijan. He acknowledges that the Biden administration has issued good statements about the need to re-open the Lachin corridor, however, more needs to be done to stop the damage inflicted by Aliyev’s regime.
“As long as we are providing funding to Azerbaijan, they are going to listen to the money, not to what we have to say. Until we cut off the money, they are going to feel that they can do whatever they want to do with impunity. The first step is cutting off the money and the next step is to sanction them and support war crimes investigations. We need to change section 907 and remove presidential discretion, because presidents of both parties have ignored its fine language. If the war crimes and the belligerence we see out of Baku is not enough to trigger cutoff under 907, then 907 is not working anymore,” Schiff reiterated.
The overall mood in Washington towards the attacks on Armenia and Artsakh is apathetic, according to Congressman Schiff, particularly with his colleagues who are not a part of the Armenian Caucus. He attributes this to a real lack of awareness and warns that multiple neighboring countries may get involved in the war, including Turkey, Iran and possibly Russia, which may result in a situation where people will regret not paying enough attention on the dire situation in the Caucuses.
Although the future of the Armenian people seems grim, Congressman Schiff remains optimistic and encourages the Armenian American community to hold onto hope and continue fighting for their sisters and brothers in the Homeland. “The Armenian people are extraordinarily resilient, they have always been outnumbered and they have always been in a difficult neighborhood. There is no vanquishing the Armenian people. The Armenian people are survivors, but that does not mean that we can let up at all in our efforts. There is room for hope, but we need to get through this period right now and that is where we have to focus,” he stated.
As the representative of the largest Armenian American community in the US, Congressman Schiff also discussed the importance of commemorating the Armenian Genocide to raise awareness of injustices past and present. “If we do not speak truthfully about the Armenian Genocide, if we do not educate the next generation of what took place, it simply makes it more likely that it is going to reoccur and if not to the Armenian people, then to others. I think what we are seeing in the region now, is the continuation of an effort to wipe out the Armenian people and so the history is very important to understanding the present. Hitler is reported to have said in support of the Holocaust ‘who after all remembers the Armenians?’ and if dictators and despots feel they can get away with mass murder they will do it again,” he declared.
“I feel very grateful to represent the largest Armenian community in the country. I am grateful for the relationship that we have and grateful for the support I receive in the community. I am just very proud to represent the community,” Schiff added.