Peters Calls for U.S. to Stand with Armenia
WASHINGTON, DC – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) condemned the Azerbaijani government’s military aggression and violence toward the Armenian people, which this week led to the killing of dozens of Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. During his speech, Peters called on his Senate colleagues and the Biden Administration to stand in solidarity with the Armenian people as they face a humanitarian crisis and existential threat from Azerbaijan.
“The Azerbaijani government has made it clear, their goal is to erase the historic presence of Armenians in this region,” said Senator Peters. “If we continue to let this crisis devolve, then we are complicit in the violence. I call on my Senate colleagues and the Biden Administration to stand against the cruelty of the Azerbaijani government – and stand beside the Armenian people.”
To watch Senator Peters’ speech on the Senate floor, click here.
Peters previously raised concerns to the Biden Administration regarding the deployment of U.S. security assistance to Azerbaijan in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in March 2023. In March, Peters also met with members of Michigan’s Armenian community to listen to their concerns and recommit to holding Azerbaijan accountable.
Below is the text of Peters’ remarks as prepared for delivery.
“In the mountains of Nagorno-Karabakh – a humanitarian crisis is unfolding. Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin corridor has left over 100,000 ethnic Armenians cut off from the world – deprived of the food, the water, fuel, and medical care they need to survive.
“Last week, one resident made a plea. She asked: ‘How many more people will have to die before the world takes notice?’
“Today, that question carries new meaning – as the Armenian people not only confront dwindling resources but heavy bombardment. On September 19th, Azerbaijan violated the fragile peace and began bombing Nagorno-Karabakh.
“While a ceasefire was announced this morning, we cannot ignore the violence and we must stand with the citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“This conflict systematically targets the Armenian people. It’s cruel, it’s calculated, and it’s inhumane – further demonstrating that the Armenian people are facing an existential threat. Experts from the International Criminal Court say there is reason to believe it amounts to an act of genocide. That word would always sound an alarm – but it carries a particular weight with the Armenian people – and evokes a devastating chapter of their history.
“The government of Azerbaijan has orchestrated a humanitarian disaster – only to further their political and their territorial claims.
“The blockade of the Lachin corridor has kept essential supplies out of the region since June. Pregnant women are being forced to walk miles to a medical clinic. Fuel shortages have shut down schools and sidelined emergency vehicles. People get sick from untreated water, and then visit pharmacies with empty shelves.
“Food shortages run rampant. Officials in Nagorno-Karabakh estimate that 95 percent of residents are suffering from malnutrition. Starving citizens are lining up for bread in the streets – and wondering how they’ll find their family’s next meal. The use of military force by Azerbaijan will only further endanger citizens who have already endured so much.
“The Biden Administration has provided some crucial assistance, and the Azerbaijani government has announced a theoretical agreement to open the Lachin corridor once again.
“But that deal has yet to bring the Armenian people out of harm’s way. The bombardment began after it was reached – and this increasing military aggression has only deepened the humanitarian crisis.
“The Aliyev regime has now demanded that Nagorno-Karabakh’s government be dissolved and that ethnic Armenian troops be removed. The Azerbaijani government has made it clear – their goal is to erase the historic presence of Armenians in this region.
“Until it is proven that this cruel campaign has ended, we must be vigilant. Until the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have what they need to survive and to walk freely in their home once again – we cannot stand to the side.
“In the midst of these unthinkable conditions, residents have taken to the streets, calling for an end to the blockade. We must join their chorus – shedding a light on Azerbaijan’s actions and addressing the immediate threat of ethnic violence. And I encourage the Biden Administration to remember these crimes against humanity when considering where to send aid and to apply diplomatic pressure.
“If we continue to let this crisis devolve, then we are complicit in the violence. I call on my Senate colleagues and the Biden Administration to stand against the cruelty of the Azerbaijani government – and stand beside the Armenian people.”