President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C., 205000
August 4, 2009
Dear President Obama,
Last year's war between Georgia and Russia punctuated the continued threat to peace and security in the South Caucasus arising from unresolved territorial conflicts that have spanned more than two decades since the fall of the Soviet Union. Recently, several Iranian officials openly threatened Azerbaijan for hosting Israeli President Shimon Peres in Baku. Similarly, four UN Security Council resolutions demanding that Armenian forces withdraw and cease the occupation of Azerbaijani lands since 1993 have achieved little for the displaced one million refugees and IDPs. All of this adds to the urgency of reaching a sustainable peace based on the fundamentals o f international law and human rights, or, as you have stated earlier, “a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict.”
With stronger support from the United States and increasing involvement of the Russian Federation, the peace process has produced some momentum at the latest meetings of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia. U.S. Mediator Matt Bryza emphasized the productive position and leadership demonstrated by Azerbaijan during the negotiations, particularly Azerbaijan's many concessions to Armenia and the Armenian people despite Armenia’s aggression in and military occupation of western Azerbaijan. A peaceful settlement, which involves respect for territorial integrity of the states in the region, repatriation of the displaced communities, opening of all borders and communications, security guarantees for both Azerbaijani and Armenian communities in occupied regions of Azerbaijan, and withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijan, and nothing less, is necessary to achieve a lasting and durable settlement.
The South Caucasus, a strategic global juncture, holds great promise for regional and global peace and prosperity. Yet the region’s potential has been disrupted and disable by two decades of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Armenia’s own development has been paralyzed as a result of its self-imposed isolation from major regional projects. More than one million Armenians have left Armenia due to poor government, poor economics, and poor services. While the Azerbaijani residents of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and other Armenian-occupied regions of Azerbaijan have suffered ethnic cleansing, displacement, and destruction of personal and cultural property, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh continue to live in economic and political uncertainty. Armenia's occupation of Azerbaijan has been costly in many ways.
A lasting and durable peace settlement would bring about a major positive change to the South Caucasus. The Azerbaijani-Georgian partnership has already shown what can be reached when the parties work towards regional cooperation. Should the Armenian leadership demonstrate productive pragmatism, it can help integrate the nation with the economic and democratic future of the region securing a peace and prosperity for its people. Such a future would include open communications and borders, including the Turkish-Armenian border, which was closed in response to Armenia’s invasion and occupation of the Azerbaijani region of Kelbajar, outside of NK region, in 1993. A lasting and durable peace would advance U.S. interests as it provides for lasting stability in a strategically important region where the United States requires solid friends. Significantly, as the value of the Caspian hydrocarbon resources increase for Europe’s energy security and the South Caucasus transport corridor serves as the key conduit for access to Afghanistan, a lasting and durable peace in this region becomes an even higher priority. In addition, helping Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach a settlement would demonstrate the new Administration’s commitment to the new foreign policy of global engagement and provide a positive tangible result for U.S.-Russian cooperation.
Therefore, on behalf of the Azerbaijani-American and Turkish-American communities, we support and encourage your Good Office to intensify U.S. efforts towards reaching a just peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan based on United Nations Security Council resolutions and the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, and to seize this historic opportunity. While we recognize the significant pressures that bear from special interests opposed to peace for a variety of reasons, including nationalist and religious ones, who have previously succeeded to undermine peace efforts, we hope that America’s vision for the South Caucasus is informed by its national interests and its relationship with strategic partners in the region. Thank you.
U.S. Azeris Network (USAN)
Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA)
Azerbaijani-American Council (AAC)
Federation of Turkish American Associations (FTAA)
U.S.-Azerbaijan Council (USAC)
U.S. Turkic Network (USTN)
Cultural Center of Caucasus Jews (CCCJ)
Azerbaijan Turkey America Foundation (ATAF)
Houston Baku Sister City Association (HBSCA)
Cc: The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Vice-President of the United States of America The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, United States Secretary of State