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US Congressman Called to Expand US-Artsakh Ties

Huffington Post

Congressional Armenian Caucus founding Co-Chair Frank Pallone called on his Congressional colleagues to break down artificial barriers to unrestricted travel and open communication between the United States and Artsakh, with the introduction of the US-Artsakh Travel and Communication Resolution, News.am reports referring to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

"The United States should be supporting the free flow of dialogue and ideas across the globe," said Rep. Pallone. "Artsakh has a successful democratic government and it should not be precluded from interacting with the United States and other nations. My visit to Artsakh in September further revealed the enormous strides that Artsakh has made in recent years, and others should be given the same opportunity that I had. Rather than hindering fast developing nations like Artsakh through non-recognition, the United States should embrace and encourage through official actions," concluded Rep. Pallone.

The US – Artsakh Travel and Communication Resolution praises the Artsakh Republic for having "developed democratic institutions, fostered a pluralist political system, and, over the past quarter century, held parliamentary and presidential elections that have been rated as free and fair by international observers."  It also highlights Artsakh’s commitment to common-sense peace initiatives, first advocated by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY), calling for the removal of snipers and heavy artillery from the Artsakh-Azerbaijan line of contact, the deployment of additional Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitors, and the placement of gun-fire locator systems along the lines of contact.  The measures, which have been embraced by Armenia, Artsakh, and the OSCE Minsk Group peace negotiators, have been thus far blocked by Azerbaijan.

The US-Artsakh Travel and Communications Resolution notes that current State Department policies place "self-imposed restrictions on travel and communications between the United States and Artsakh, limiting oversight of United States taxpayer-funded assistance programs and discouraging the open dialogue and discourse that can contribute to a peaceful resolution of Artsakh-related status and security issues."

ANCA thanked Congressman Pallone for taking a legislative sledgehammer to the walls that have, for far too long, prevented the very type of open dialogue that is so very necessary for a durable and democratic Artsakh peace.

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