"The United States has a role to play in the region." American congressman in Yerevan
Visit of US congressman to Armenia
“The United States is ready to participate in multilateral, bilateral negotiations. We are serious about our role as co-chair of the Minsk Group [negotiations were held on the resolution of the Karabakh conflict in this format before the 2020 war; Armenia currently sees the process of normalizing relations with Azerbaijan in this format – JAMnews]. We understand that security in the region has undergone major changes and ongoing discussions are needed,” David Price, chairman of the US House Democratic Partnership Committee, said in Yerevan.
The delegation headed by him arrived in Armenia on October 17. As part of the two-day visit the congressmen met with the country’s prime minister, the speaker of parliament, as well as deputies from the ruling party and the opposition. The results of the visit were summed up at a joint press conference by Price and the chairman of the commission on foreign relations of the Armenian parliament, Eduard Aghajanyan.
This is the second visit of US congressmen to Armenia this year. On September 17-19, a delegation headed by Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi was in Yerevan. The visit followed the September fighting on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Pelosi noted that “Armenia is resisting the illegal and deadly attack of Azerbaijan,” but did not specify whether the United States is ready to provide military support to Armenia.
In Yerevan the delegation discussed both the Armenian-American relations and the current security situation. It is noteworthy that the Speaker of the House of Representatives made an unscheduled visit to the Armenian Defense Ministry.
Details of the second visit of US congressmen, the most important statements, as well as a political scientist’s commentary on US activity in Armenia.
“The United States is ready to engage in negotiations”
The head of the commission on foreign relations, Eduard Agadzhanyan, assessed the discussions with the congressman as important and meaningful. He said that the core of the talks were security issues and the challenges facing Armenia.
The head of the American delegation, David Price, stressed that the visit is taking place at a difficult time for the region and Armenia, given the September hostilities on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
“We are against the invasion of the sovereign territory of Armenia and demand that Azerbaijan return to its original positions. The United States has a role to play here in the region, in particular to guide the international community, to work with international institutions to resolve this longstanding conflict,” he said.
He only said that there are intensive discussions about the possibility of providing assistance to Armenia in the field of security.
Price did not give specific answers to journalists’ questions about providing military assistance to Armenia and the demands of NATO member Turkey.
According to the congressman, the United States does not want any party to assume a predetermined role in the region, meaning the involvement of Russia . He stressed that the United States supports “peace based on the values of the people living in the region.”
Answering a question on providing military assistance to Azerbaijan, the congressman said that before the adoption of this decision, the United States received guarantees that it “would never be used against Armenia for offensive purposes.” Price added that official Yerevan also received these guarantees.
“Let’s continue democratic reforms” – Pashinyan
From the office of the Prime Minister of Armenia it is reported that during the meeting with Pashinyan, US Congressman David Price
- considered unacceptable the invasion of Azerbaijan into the sovereign territory of Armenia,
- stressed the need for the immediate return of the Azerbaijani armed forces to their original positions.
“David Price condemned the inhumane treatment and actions of the representatives of the armed forces of Azerbaijan towards the captured Armenian soldiers. In addition, he stressed the importance of returning prisoners of war who are still being held in Azerbaijan,” the statement said.
The congressman also welcomed the steps taken by the Armenian government toward developing democratic institutions in Armenia and strengthening Armenian-American cooperation.
The Prime Minister of Armenia replied that intensive Armenian-American contacts and high-level mutual visits make a significant contribution to the further development of the strategic dialogue, and this cooperation plays an important role in the “consistent implementation of democratic reforms” in the country:
“The citizens of Armenia have unequivocally chosen the path of democracy, and the government will steadily continue to make democratic reforms.”
“Azerbaijani encroachments are unacceptable”
The delegation also met with the Speaker of the Parliament Alen Simonyan. It is reported that in addition to inter-parliamentary cooperation, the parties discussed
- “consequences of the aggression of the Azerbaijani armed forces on September 13-14,
- the invasion of the Azerbaijani army into the territory of Armenia and the expansionist aspirations of Azerbaijan and Turkey”.
“Despite the fact that on the evening of September 14 a fragile ceasefire agreement was reached through the mediation of the United States, Azerbaijan continues to systematically violate the ceasefire,” Alen Simonyan stated.
According to political scientist Anna Ohanyan, US activity in Armenia shows that Washington takes very seriously one of the biggest threats to international stability – the occupation of sovereign territories.
“If they can protect the border of Armenia and send clear signals to Azerbaijan, this will be the message that they can protect the same norm of inadmissibility of forcible occupation in the Eurasian region,” she said.
According to the Ohanyan, these delegations indicate that the United States has begun to actively promote its role and interests in the world. She believes that this is important for Armenia, especially in connection with the invasion of Azerbaijan into the country’s territory, but adds that the involvement of the United States in solving these problems should not be overestimated:
“I would not argue that the United States will enter the South Caucasus and ensure the absolute, 360-degree security of Armenia.”
Ohanyan stated that Moscow did not want to protect the borders of Armenia. She believes that Russia had almost a hundred years to level the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but did nothing. According to Ohanyan, in the current geopolitical conditions Russia does not even have the tools to fulfill the points of the November statement, which was signed by the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan with its own mediation. He believes that without the participation of the West it will be impossible to achieve this.
According to Ohanyan, Washington will also try to protect the security and rights of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh:
“But this does not mean that the US will support the secession of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan. I don’t think things will go that far. It seems to me that the United States will put pressure on Aliyev so that Nagorno-Karabakh receives a status, but as part of Azerbaijan.”
According to Ohanyan, the United States has a wide range of leverage on states such as Azerbaijan, including sanctions, but “they cannot save Karabakh and give it to the Armenians.”
She believes that in order to fill the resulting security vacuum, Armenia should take the following steps:
- focus on strengthening their military system;
- cooperate with France and the USA,
- deepen ties with countries in Europe and the Middle East,
- strengthen its diplomacy in the region.
Visit of US congressman to Armenia