President Serzh Sarkisian thanked the U.S. Congress for allocating every year millions of dollars in humanitarian assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh as he spoke at a reception held in his honor on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
The reception was organized by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) and attended by about two dozen pro-Armenian members of the U.S. House of Representatives. They included Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Royce is also a member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues that currently comprises 94 U.S. lawmakers. The bipartisan grouping established in 1995 as well as Armenian-American lobbying groups have been instrumental in over $60 million in direct aid to Karabakh which Congress has allocated since 1998 over strong objections from Azerbaijan.
Less than half of that money has been spent by successive U.S. administrations so far. It has largely been channeled into reconstruction of homes destroyed during the 1991-1994 Armenian-Azerbaijani war and humanitarian demining operations.
“I would like to extend our words of gratitude to the people of the United States and the U.S. Congress for the humanitarian assistance allocated to Nagorno-Karabakh,” Sarkisian said in a speech at the Washington event. “That assistance has had a not only humanitarian but, first and foremost, moral significance for the people of Artsakh (Karabakh).”
“It comes to testify, time and again, that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has not been forgotten in its efforts to build an independent and democratic state while countering persistent provocations of Azerbaijan, which has chosen a path to perfecting dictatorship,” he went on. “The Nagorno-Karabakh people’s path toward freedom … is irrevocable. In this sense, your continued support is really vital for us.”
Later on Wednesday Sarkisian had a separate meeting with leaders of the two main Armenian advocacy groups in the U.S.: the Armenian Assembly of America and the Armenian National Committee of America. According to his press office, they discussed, among other things, the latest escalation of tensions along “the line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.