January 28, 2017 - 13:12 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - A nominee for the post of the U.S. Department of State, Rex Tillerson has expressed support for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.
As previously reported by the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved President Donald Trump's Secretary of State nomination of Tillerson, and is currently awaiting approval by the full Senate.
Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), a strong supporter of U.S.-Armenia relations, asked the Secretary of State nominee a series of questions about America’s role in the region. As a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the U.S. plays a critical role in maintaining stability in the South Caucasus through its mediation of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Tillerson promised: "If confirmed, I will work with the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan to find a peaceful, long-term solution that allows for stability and prosperity in the region. The first step in this process must be to build trust by ensuring that all agreements between the parties are respected."
"We call upon the Administration to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its blatant ceasefire violations and resulting atrocities as well as Azerbaijan's continued targeting of civilian facilities such as a kindergarten in the Tavush province of Armenia," stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.
“We commend Senator Markey for raising key issues of concern for the Armenian American community and look forward to working him and his colleagues in the 115th Congress.”
Focusing on Armenia's other hostile neighbor, Turkey, Sen. Markey noted that “the United States has spoken clearly about the need for Turkey to lift its more than 20-year blockade of Armenia and establish diplomatic relations with Armenia.” Senator Markey asked the Secretary of State nominee what steps he would take to ensure that Turkey ends its blockade of Armenia. Tillerson responded: “I will support the normalized diplomatic, economic, and civil society relations, between Armenia and Turkey in my ongoing discussions with the two parties. U.S. leadership and re-engagement in the region at large will help build the necessary trust to improve relations between Armenia and Turkey.” He also added that he will "ensure protection of religious minorities and their property rights, including the Armenian community in Turkey."
Tillerson assured that he is committed to fostering the relationship between the U.S. and Armenia, including economic opportunities. "It is in the interest of the United States to promote mutually beneficial trade between the United States and Armenia. If confirmed, I will work closely with the U.S. Trade Representative and other relevant parts of the U.S. government to explore the possibilities to expand trade and investment between the United States and Armenia in a way that creates U.S. jobs and economic growth," he continued. Tillerson also recognized "the tremendous challenges facing Armenia due to the influx of refugees" and plans "to ensure cost-effective assistance to Armenia as part of a broader strategy for handling the Syrian refugee issue and protecting U.S. national security interests."