JOINT PRESS RELEASE

August 4 , 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

USAN Contact: YesWeCan[at]USAzeris.org

Joint Letter to President Obama from the Azerbaijani-American, Jewish-American
and Turkish-American organizations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

August 4, 2009 — Today, a joint letter from several prominent Azerbaijani-American, Jewish-American and Turkish-American organizations was sent to President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on the ongoing peace negotiations to settle the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over the Armenia-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The co-signing organizations are: Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), Azerbaijan Turkey America Foundation (ATAF), Azerbaijani-American Council (AAC), Cultural Center of Caucasus Jews (CCCJ), Federation of Turkish American Associations (FTAA), Houston Baku Sister City Association (HBSCA), U.S. Azeris Network (USAN), U.S.-Azerbaijan Council (USAC) and the U.S. Turkic Network (USTN). The joint letter to President Obama is enclosed below and as well as available for download and printing here:

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[Logos and website URLs of all the co-signing organizations]

August 4, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C., 205000

Dear President Obama,

Last year’s war between Georgia and Russia punctuated the continued threat to peace and security in the South Caucasus arising from unresolved territorial conflicts that have spanned more than two decades since the fall of the Soviet Union. Recently, several Iranian officials openly threatened Azerbaijan for hosting Israeli President Shimon Peres in Baku. Similarly, four UN Security Council resolutions demanding that Armenian forces withdraw and cease the occupation of Azerbaijani lands since 1993 have achieved little for the displaced one million refugees and IDPs. All of this adds to the urgency of reaching a sustainable peace based on the fundamentals of international law and human rights, or, as you have stated earlier, “a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict.”

With stronger support from the United States and increasing involvement of the Russian Federation, the peace process has produced some momentum at the latest meetings of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia. U.S. Mediator Matt Bryza emphasized the productive position and leadership demonstrated by Azerbaijan during the negotiations, particularly Azerbaijan’s many concessions to Armenia and the Armenian people despite Armenia’s aggression in and military occupation of western Azerbaijan. A peaceful settlement, which involves respect for territorial integrity of the states in the region, repatriation of the displaced communities, opening of all borders and communications, security guarantees for both Azerbaijani and Armenian communities in occupied regions of Azerbaijan, and withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijan, and nothing less, is necessary to achieve a lasting and durable settlement.

The South Caucasus, a strategic global juncture, holds great promise for regional and global peace and prosperity. Yet the region’s potential has been disrupted and disable by two decades of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Armenia’s own development has been paralyzed as a result of its self-imposed isolation from major regional projects. More than one million Armenians have left Armenia due to poor government, poor economics, and poor services. While the Azerbaijani residents of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and other Armenian-occupied regions of Azerbaijan have suffered ethnic cleansing, displacement, and destruction of personal and cultural property, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh continue to live in economic and political uncertainty. Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijan has been costly in many ways.

A lasting and durable peace settlement would bring about a major positive change to the South Caucasus. The Azerbaijani-Georgian partnership has already shown what can be reached when the parties work towards regional cooperation. Should the Armenian leadership demonstrate productive pragmatism, it can help integrate the nation with the economic and democratic future of the region securing a peace and prosperity for its people. Such a future would include open communications and borders, including the Turkish-Armenian border, which was closed in response to Armenia’s invasion and occupation of the Azerbaijani region of Kelbajar, outside of NK region, in 1993. A lasting and durable peace would advance U.S. interests as it provides for lasting stability in a strategically important region where the United States requires solid friends. Significantly, as the value of the Caspian hydrocarbon resources increase for Europe’s energy security and the South Caucasus transport corridor serves as the key conduit for access to Afghanistan, a lasting and durable peace in this region becomes an even higher priority. In addition, helping Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach a settlement would demonstrate the new Administration’s commitment to the new foreign policy of global engagement and provide a positive tangible result for U.S.-Russian cooperation.

Therefore, on behalf of the Azerbaijani-American and Turkish-American communities, we support and encourage your Good Office to intensify U.S. efforts towards reaching a just peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan based on United Nations Security Council resolutions and the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, and to seize this historic opportunity. While we recognize the significant pressures that bear from special interests opposed to peace for a variety of reasons, including nationalist and religious ones, who have previously succeeded to undermine peace efforts, we hope that America’s vision for the South Caucasus is informed by its national interests and its relationship with strategic partners in the region. Thank you.

Sincerely,

U.S. Azeris Network (USAN)

Azerbaijani-American Council (AAC)

U.S.-Azerbaijan Council (USAC)

Cultural Center of Caucasus Jews (CCCJ)

Houston Baku Sister City Association (HBSCA)

Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA)

Federation of Turkish American Associations (FTAA)

U.S. Turkic Network (USTN)

Azerbaijan Turkey America Foundation (ATAF)

Cc: The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Vice-President of the United States of America
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, United States Secretary of State

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The U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) <http://www.usazeris.org/> is a registered non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian genuine grassroots advocacy and voter education network that is facilitating political activism and efforts by the Azerbaijani-Americans and other Turkic-Americans and their associations, organizations, councils, conferences, and other formal, semi-formal and informal groups, on federal, state and local levels. USAN is the first nationwide grassroots organization uniting Azerbaijani-Americans, being created by the grassroots, for the grassroots.

USAN PR#8-1-2009