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ANCA Calls on State Department to End Inaction on Turkish and Azeri Blockades

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  • ANCA Calls on State Department to End Inaction on Turkish and Azeri Blockades

    ANCA Calls on State Department to End Inaction on Turkish and Azeri Blockades

    Congress Urged to Increase Pressure on the Administration

    WASHINGTON, DC--The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) this week called on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to condemn Turkey and Azerbaijan's illegal blockades, and urged Members of Congress to escalate their pressure on the Administration to oppose these blockades and other attempts by Ankara and Baku to economically isolate Armenia and Karabagh.

    In an August 16 letter to Secretary Rice, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian expressed the Armenian American community's "profound disappointment regarding the continued lack of meaningful diplomacy on the part of our government to pressure Turkey and Azerbaijan to lift their longstanding and illegal blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh."

    Hachikian recalled the Secretary's recent comments sharply criticizing Syria's border closure with Lebanon and her statement that "good neighbors don't close their borders to their neighbors." Hachikian closed the letter by asking the Secretary to ensure that "our government's policy of opposition to blockades and support for open borders is applied universally and without double standards."

    In an August 18 memo to Congressional offices, the ANCA urged Senators and Representatives to increase their pressure on the Administration to oppose growing Turkish and Azeri efforts to isolate, circumvent, and harm Armenia and Karabagh. The ANCA specifically called on legislators to press the Administration to not provide any US assistance to railroads traversing the Caucasus that circumvent Armenia. The letter voiced support for HR 3361, the "South Caucasus Integration and Open Railroads Act of 2005," which was introduced on July 21st by Armenian Caucus Co- Chairmen Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA).

    Commenting on the day of the resolution's introduction, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, welcomed the "effort to protect US taxpayers from subsidizing an ill-advised and over-priced railroad project that--at the insistence of Turkey and Azerbaijan--has been designed to exclude Armenia. Constructing this railroad around Armenia runs directly counter to US foreign policy and--as if that wasn't bad enough--makes absolutely no financial sense --which is precisely why its sponsors will surely turn to the American taxpayer to foot the bill."

    The ANCA Congressional memo also called for increased support for HR 3103, known as the "End the Turkish Blockade of Armenia Act." This measure, which was introduced by Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Frank Pallone, calls on Turkey to end its blockade of Armenia and requires the US Department of State to report on its efforts to reverse this violation of international law.

    Activists continue to send ANCA WebFaxes to their Members of Congress in support of these two pieces of legislation using the ANCA's

    [CENTER][I][COLOR="Red"][B]"We must remind the Turkish Government that when they had Sultan Abdul Hamid, we had Andranik Pasha, Serob Aghbyur, and Gevorg Chaush. When they had Taleat pasha, we had Soghomon Tehleryan. New Hrants will be born, and our struggle will go on.” [/B][/COLOR][/I][/CENTER]

    [COLOR="Black"][CENTER][B]"Hrant Dink's murder is tragic proof that the Turkish government - through its campaign of denial, threats and intimidation against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide - continues to fuel the same hatred and intolerance that initially led to this crime against humanity more than 90 years ago."[/B][/CENTER][/COLOR]

  • #2
    Senators Santorum, Menendez Introduce Bill To Block

    Armenian National Committee of America
    1711 N St., NW
    Washington, DC 20036
    Tel: (202) 775-1918
    Fax: (202) 775-5648
    Email: [email protected]


    March 29, 2006
    Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
    Tel: (202) 775-1918


    -- Similar Measure in House Has Garnered 77 Cosponsors

    WASHINGTON, DC - Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and
    newly appointed New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced
    legislation this week that would prohibit U.S. assistance for the
    building of railroads traversing the Caucasus that circumvent Armenia,
    reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

    The legislation mirrors a similar House measure (H.R. 3361) titled
    the "South Caucasus Integration and Open Railroads Act of 2005",
    introduced by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Joe Knollenberg
    (R-MI) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) in June, 2005. The House version of
    the legislation currently has 77 cosponsors.

    "We welcome this effort to protect U.S. taxpayers from subsidizing
    an ill-advised and over-priced railroad project that - at the
    insistence of Turkey and Azerbaijan - has been specifically designed
    to exclude Armenia," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the
    ANCA. "Constructing this railroad around Armenia runs directly counter
    to U.S. foreign policy, is commercially untenable, and will only serve
    to institutionalize Turkey and Azerbaijan's blockades of Armenia."

    In his speech on the Senate floor, S. 2461 original cosponsor Sen.
    Menendez noted the Turkish government's ongoing campaign to "isolate
    Armenia economically, politically and socially," citing Turkey's
    13-year blockade of Armenia and, more recently, the construction
    of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which also circumvents Armenia.
    "U.S. policy in the South Caucasus seeks to foster regional cooperation
    and economic integration and supports open borders and transport
    and communication corridors. U.S. support for this project would
    run counter to that policy which is why Senator SANTORUM and I are
    introducing this legislation today."

    In May, 2005, the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, Georgian
    President Mikheil Saakashvili, and Turkey's President Akhmed Nedget
    Sezer announced their intention to construct the railway corridor
    linking Turkey, Tbilisi, and Baku. The project would effectively
    replace the Kars-Gyumri railroad route, which has been blockaded
    by Turkey for more than a decade. The governmental and commercial
    interests involved in the project, estimated at between $600 million
    and $1 billion, will almost certainly turn to the U.S. government for
    financial support, subsidies, favorable lending terms, and low-cost
    risk insurance, as they did for the Baku- Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline route.

    In October 2005, the European Commission added its voice to the growing
    international opposition to a Caucasus railroad. The Commission's
    position was articulated by the Directorate General for Transport and
    Energy. In explaining why the European Union would not support the
    creation of this rail line, the Directorate noted that its construction
    was both unnecessary and inefficient in light of the existing railroad
    connecting Kars, Gyumri, and Tbilisi.

    Sen. Menendez' complete statement follows.


    Statement By Sen. Robert Menendez Upon Introduction of S.2461

    Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce legislation
    to block U.S. support for yet another anti-Armenian initiative.

    In numerous cases over the last few years, the Turkish government has
    methodically sought to isolate Armenia economically, politically and
    socially. One of the most egregious examples was the imposition of a
    1993 blockade against Armenia in support of Azerbaijan's war against
    Karabakh Armenians.

    The Turkish government has routinely sought to exclude Armenia from
    projects that would benefit the economies of the countries of the
    South Caucasus. The latest example of this policy is the proposal
    to build a new rail line that would connect Turkey, Georgia and
    Azerbaijan. Similar to the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, this rail link would
    specifically go around Armenia.

    Now, geographically, we all know that a pipeline or rail line that
    seeks to connect Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan would have to pass
    through Armenia. One would have to make a special effort to bypass

    The U.S. should not endorse Turkey and Azerbaijan's politically
    motivated attempt to isolate Armenia.

    I therefore rise today in opposition to this plan, and to introduce
    legislation, along with my colleague, Senator SANTORUM, that would bar
    U.S. support and funding for a rail link connecting Georgia and Turkey,
    and which specifically excludes Armenia. This project is estimated to
    cost up to $800 million and would take three years to complete. The aim
    of this costly approach, as publicly stated by Azeri President Aliyev,
    is to isolate Armenia by enhancing the ongoing Turkish and Azerbaijani
    blockades and to keep the existing Turkey-Armenia-Georgia rail link
    shut down. This ill-conceived project runs counter to U.S. policy,
    ignores the standing Kars- Gyumri rail route, is politically and
    economically flawed and serves to destabilize the region.

    U.S. policy in the South Caucasus seeks to foster regional cooperation
    and economic integration and supports open borders and transport
    and communication corridors. U.S. support for this project would
    run counter to that policy which is why Senator Santorum and I are
    introducing this legislation today.

    We cannot continue to stoke the embers of regional conflict by
    supporting projects that deliberately exclude one of the region's
    most important members. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
    "All truth passes through three stages:
    First, it is ridiculed;
    Second, it is violently opposed; and
    Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

    Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


    • #3
      Ankara May Soon Open Its Borders with Armenia, Says Daniel Fried

      Ankara May Soon Open Its Borders with Armenia, Says Daniel Fried
      WASHINGTON, DC (Armenpress)--Daniel Fried, the US Assistant State Secretary on Eurasian and European affairs, said after his visit to the South Caucasus that "Ankara may open its borders with Armenia in a short period of time."

      According to Turkish "Aksham," Fried said that during his meetings in Ankara he discussed the issue of opening the Turkish-Armenian border and told the Turkish government that the US demands the border be opened.

      Fried also mentioned the issue of the Armenian genocide, saying that works is being done to make Turkey come into terms with its history.
      © 2006 ASBAREZ ONLINE. All Rights Reserved.
      "All truth passes through three stages:
      First, it is ridiculed;
      Second, it is violently opposed; and
      Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

      Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


      • #4
        House Panel Blocks U.S. Funding For ‘Anti-Armenian’ Rail Link

        By Emil Danielyan

        A key committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to ban any U.S. government funding for plans by Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to build a regional railway that would bypass Armenia and add to its economic isolation.

        A legal amendment, unanimously approved by the House Financial Services Committee late Wednesday, makes it impossible for the U.S. Export-Import Bank to “develop or promote any rail connections or railway-related connections that traverse or connect Baku, Azerbaijan; Tbilisi, Georgia; and Kars, Turkey, and that specifically exclude cities in Armenia.” The influential Armenian-American lobbying organizations were apparently instrumental in its passage.

        The $400 million project has yet to get off the drawing board but has already prompted serious concern from the authorities in Yerevan. They fear that it would prevent Armenia from becoming a regional transport hub after a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and a normalization of its relations with Turkey. Reports from Washington quoted pro-Armenian members of the congressional panel as echoing these concerns.

        "With this amendment, we are sending a message to the governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan that continually excluding Armenia in regional projects fosters instability," said its main sponsor, Congressman Joseph Crowley of New York. “Bypassing Armenia is just another attempt to further suffocate this republic, which has made great strides in democratic and economic reforms notwithstanding its neighbors' hostility.”

        Another New York Democrat, Carolyn Maloney, referred to Armenia as a victim of Turkish-Azerbaijani “aggression.” “Allowing the exclusion of Armenia from important transportation routes would stymie the emergence of this region as an important East-West trade corridor,” she told the House committee.

        Not surprisingly, the two main Armenian-American advocacy groups were quick to welcome the measure. “Passage of this amendment protects U.S. goals and interests in the region and ensures that attempts by Turkey and Azerbaijan to isolate Armenia will not go unanswered,” Bryan Ardouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America, said in a statement. Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, similarly praised the U.S. legislators for “protecting American taxpayers from subsidizing an ill-advised and over-priced railroad project.”

        The measure will most probably be endorsed by the full House later this year. The U.S. Senate is expected to discuss a similar bill and may well follow suit. That would be a major blow to efforts by Ankara, Baku and Tbilisi to attract external financing for the proposed rail link. The Export-Import Bank could help to raise much of that funding. Its credit guarantees have already been essential for the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline that was completed earlier this year.

        The U.S. administration, which has been pushing for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian ties, seems to disapprove of the controversial railway project. The Armenian Assembly quoted the U.S. ambassador-designate to Azerbaijan, Anne Derse, as telling congressional hearings last month that it “would not be beneficial to regional integration.”

        The European Union also opposes the construction of the Kars- Tbilisi-Baku railroad. “A railway project that is not including Armenia will not get our financial support,” EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said during a visit to Yerevan last February.

        Armenian officials argue that there already exists a railroad connecting Turkey to the South Caucasus via Armenia and that the regional countries should reactivate it instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on building a new one. The Kars-Gyumri rail link has stood idle more than a decade as part of the continuing Turkish economic blockade of Armenia.

        That there are geopolitical motives behind the controversial rail project was admitted by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev last year. “If we succeed with this project, the Armenians will end in complete isolation, which would create an additional problem for their already bleak future,” Aliev reportedly declared.

        Still, Georgia’s Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli insisted after talks with Armenian leaders in Yerevan last September that his country is only looking to further capitalize on its geographical position and is solely concerned with economic benefits that would stem from the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku route.

        The existence of such benefits was called into question last week by the director general of Georgia’s state-run rail network, Irakli Ezugbaya, though. In particular, Ezugbaya cast doubt on the credibility of a feasibility study on the project that was conducted by Turkish company recently.

        According to Georgian press reports, the study failed to predict the anticipated volume of traffic and freight along the would-be railway. The transport ministers of Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan are expected to discuss the issue when they meet in Tbilisi later this month.

        (Photolur photo)
        "All truth passes through three stages:
        First, it is ridiculed;
        Second, it is violently opposed; and
        Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

        Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)