Immediate Release – June 11th, 2014
On June 11th, 2014, The Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan (AFAZ) submitted a testimony for the Helsinki Commission hearing on the US – Azerbaijan relations. The testimony given by Ms. Irada Akhoundova, board member of AFAZ underlined the importance of strategic partnership between the Unites States and Azerbaijan. In the testimony, AFAZ drew attention to the rapidly evolving security environment in the region and stated that the strong bilateral partnership has already “helped Azerbaijan improve the capabilities of [Azerbaijan’s] armed forces to contribute to international security and increase interoperability with NATO forces”.
Welcoming the increased efforts of the United States as a co-chair of the Minsk Group, AFAZ expressed their regret that “some 20% of the internationally-recognized Azerbaijani territory, including the Nagorno Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, is still under the occupation by the armed forces of Armenia in direct contradiction to several resolutions by the United Nations Security Council”. They also called upon the Administration and Congress “to review its assistance policies to Armenia in the light of occupation of Azerbaijani lands”. Furthermore, the testimony urged the Administration to stop sending US taxpayers’ money to the separatists in the Nagorno Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
The testimony also highlighted Azerbaijan leadership in promoting Europe’s energy security by enabling the Southern Gas Corridor, which “will bring a vital supply of new gas to southern Europe”.
Senator Cardin, who is the Helsinki Commission Chairman, expressed his appreciation for the critical bilateral security partnership, particularly Azerbaijan’s contribution to the international operation in Afghanistan. Senator also highly assessed energy aspects of the relations and the positive dynamic of the Azerbaijan-Israel relationship.
In his testimony, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rubin described the partnership with Azerbaijan as “a critically important aspect of our engagement in the Caucasus and wider region”. His words that “supporting Azerbaijan’s independence, territorial integrity should be and is a high priority for us” sent a strong message of support by the Obama Administration for Azerbaijan.