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Pelosi criticizes ‘illegal’ Azerbaijan attack on Armenia

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On Sunday (18 September), US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized Azerbaijan’s “illegal” attack on Armenia. It’s ignited the heaviest violence since their 2020 war.

At least 200 people lost their lives in border clashes on Tuesday. And Baku and Yerevan have both claimed responsibility for sparking them.

Pelosi told reporters in Yerevan, “We strongly condemn such assaults — on behalf of Congress — which undermine (the) chances of the much-needed peace deal.

Because of the emphasis on security after an unlawful and fatal invasion by Azerbaijan of Armenian land, “Armenia has special relevance to us.”

She said, “The attack constituted an assault on the sovereignty of Armenia.”

According to Alen Simonyan, speaker of the Armenian parliament, fighting between the two longtime adversaries in the Caucasus came to a halt overnight on Thursday due to American intervention.

Russia has failed in the past efforts to mediate a ceasefire.

Alongside Pelosi, he told reporters, “We are thankful to the United States for the accord of the tenuous truce obtained via their mediation.”

Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, also met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday, the State Department said.

According to spokesperson Ned Price, Blinken “urged President Aliyev to uphold the ceasefire, withdraw armed troops, and strive to address any open disputes between Armenia and Azerbaijan via diplomatic discussions.”

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US-Armenia rapprochement

Pelosi’s visit signals a closer relationship between Washington and Yerevan. Where resentment is rising over Moscow, Armenia’s longtime friend, preoccupied with its almost seven-month conflict in Ukraine.

Despite a formal request for military assistance, Russia held off on assisting because of its strong relations with Baku and its treaty commitment to protect Armenia in the case of an attack.

“We requested military assistance, but our request was denied. Naturally, we are not pleased,” Artyom Grigoryan, the head of Armenia’s security council, said on Friday.

Pelosi, who landed in Yerevan on a three-day trip, is the highest-ranking US official to visit Armenia since the small republic earned independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

A weeping Pelosi lay flowers at the hilltop monument in Yerevan honoring the 1.5 million Armenians who died in the Ottoman Empire during World War I on Sunday morning.

Turkey vehemently rejects Armenia’s demand for international recognition of the bloodletting as genocide, but many other nations agree.

After US President Joe Biden publicly recognized the Armenian genocide last year, Pelosi said she was “honored” to visit Yerevan.

As crimes are commit worldwide, particularly by Russia against Ukraine, everyone’s moral responsibility is never to forget. Pelosi made her statement on Saturday.

In the 1990s and 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan engaged in two conflicts over Nagorno-Karabakh, a pocket of Azerbaijan home to Armenians.

The war in Nagorno-Karabakh is something that the nonpartisan Congress holds Turkey and Azerbaijan accountable for.

Decades-long talks

The US co-chairs the Minsk Group of mediators, which oversaw decades-long peace negotiations between Baku and Yerevan under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The group also includes France and Russia.

The Minsk Group has virtually ceased to exist as Moscow experiences increasing isolation on the international scene due to its invasion of Ukraine in February.

In charge of mediating the process of normalization between Armenia and Azerbaijan was the European Union.

According to analysts, Western attempts to get Baku and Yerevan closer to a peace agreement have been significantly undermine by the hostilities.

More than 6,500 soldiers from both sides lost their lives during the six-week conflict in 2020, which concluded with a truce mediated by Russia.

As part of the agreement, Armenia gave up large portions of land it had long held, and Moscow sent approximately 2,000 Russian soldiers to monitor the tenuous ceasefire.

When the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, ethnic Armenian rebels in Nagorno-Karabakh split away from Azerbaijan. In the subsequent fighting, almost 30,000 people died.

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