The Azerbaijani community of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan sent a letter to Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and members of the US Congress in connection with the illegal visit of congressmen to the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia.
"Dear Nancy Pelosi, on behalf of internally displaced people expelled from the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan as a result of the occupation of Armenia, we express serious concern and protest over the visit of representatives of the US Congress - Frank Pallone, Judy Chu and Jackie Speier - to the occupied Azerbaijani territories,” the Azerbaijani community said in a letter.
"The illegal visit of the US Congress representatives accompanied by journalists negatively affects not only democracy, fundamental principles of human rights, co-existence in peace and international law, but also the situation in the conflict zone and lowers hopes for the conflict settlement,” the Azerbaijani community said. "Unfortunately, the visit also completely contradicts the statement of congresswoman Chu about the desire to be a peacemaker. If she had such a desire, she ruled out this possibility by her illegal visit.”
"This visit serves to support the illegal occupation of the Azerbaijani territories by Armenia through cruelties against the local Azerbaijani population of the region, massacres and ethnic cleansing, which were once confirmed by international observers,” the letter said. "By condemning the atrocities committed by Armenian armed groups against civilians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and the surrounding territories, the UN Security Council through the US support demanded the unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian troops from the Azerbaijani territories."
"We represent more than 80,000 people of the Azerbaijani community expelled from the Nagorno-Karabakh region and more than 700,000 internally displaced people from surrounding territories,” the Azerbaijani community said. "These people continue to suffer amid the negotiations at which no progress has been achieved over the past 25 years. Armenia not only deprives us of the fundamental rights to return to our houses, to visit the graves of our family members; it pursues a policy aimed at destroying our cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh region and continues to misappropriate our personal property.”
"To counter this policy and maintain the prospect of the peaceful settlement of the conflict, the international community has committed itself not to recognize this situation and not to render any assistance,” the letter said. "This approach corresponds to the spirit of international law, which is based on the rules supported by the US and its institutions. But, unfortunately, the recent visits of the congressmen completely contradict to these obligations and international law.”
"All this raises a relevant question in connection with the US Congress representatives’ intention as a result of the abovementioned unauthorized visit,” the Azerbaijani community said. "Did they intend to help restore peace and stability? If so, then this goal has failed completely. The attempts to "legitimize” the results of the discriminatory approach to the occupation and the victims cannot promise the peace in the region and well-being to the victims. One cannot build happiness as a result of the violation of the rights of others. Thus, we must not allow such actions and must not support those who commit them.”
"It is also clear that such visits do not help either the Armenian people or the Armenian community of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan,” the letter said. "The continuation of the illegal occupation leads to the depletion of resources necessary for the development of Armenia and at the same time to turning the Armenian community of the Nagorno-Karabakh region into a hostage of the illegal military regime created by Armenia in the occupied Azerbaijani territories. Even given the political differences within Armenia itself, the visits to the occupied Azerbaijani territories help the flawed forces in Armenia and diminish the hope for Armenia to achieve real democratic changes.”
"Therefore, such visits misinform the public and lead to the popularization of people and political forces pursuing a policy of discrimination, grossly violating all norms of humanitarian law and human rights, putting forward shameful versions of the superiority of one ethnic group over another,” the letter said. "This promises nothing positive for either Armenia or the region as a whole. We know that the visit does not reflect the US official position on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Congressman Frank Pallone admitted that the visit was made in defiance of the State Department's open warning in connection with the trips to the occupied Azerbaijani territories.”
"We regret that illegal visits to the occupied region of Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh give reason to say that they are made to meet the interests of some members of the Armenian community living in the US,” the letter said. "We all know that making visits to the occupied Azerbaijani territories is not part of the official duties of representatives of the US Congress. Such visits raise serious grounds for believing that there is a personal interest of the Congress representatives. Strong support for pro-Armenian lobbyists and advocacy of illegal visits to the occupied Azerbaijani lands further intensify such suspicions.”
"So, we reiterate that illegal visits to the occupied Azerbaijani territories and a biased approach to the Azerbaijani society are false messages from the moral, legal and political points of view,” the Azerbaijani community wrote. "The best thing that the representatives of Congress can do is to take steps to peacefully resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which will ensure the fundamental rights of all the displaced persons and will serve to establish peace and stability. This would be a positive example of the activity of the US officials and the triumph of human rights over ongoing discrimination."
"In conclusion, we would like to inform that the Azerbaijani community of internally displaced people tirelessly continues to work to restore peace, co-existence and development of both communities of Nagorno-Karabakh,” the letter said. "We thank the US president and other international leaders who support positive work in this sphere and urge everyone who is trying to question it to change their mind."
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding districts.