The House Rules Committee cleared the path for full House consideration of an amendment by Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) supporting the deployment of gunfire locators, the addition of observers, and the non-deployment of snipers, heavy arms, and new weaponry along the Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) line of contact, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
The decision sets the stage for a House vote on the measure during consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R.2500), expected to begin this week. Joining Rep. Chu in supporting the measure are Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Vice-Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA).
“America must stand with Armenians everywhere, that includes in Artsakh where innocent families are still subject to Azerbaijan’s repeated and lethal violations of the cease-fire,” Rep. Chu told the ANCA. “Common sense requirements like gun-fire locators, monitors, and a ban on snipers will make it harder for violations to go unnoticed, which is why I am so thrilled this necessary language was included for consideration in the National Defense Authorization Act. We stand on the side of peace, and it is my hope that this amendment is adopted into the final NDAA so that we can have the tools necessary to guarantee that peace.”
“We would like to thank Chairman McGovern for his Rules Committee leadership in allowing a full House vote on Representative Chu’s pro-peace amendment in support of common-sense initiatives to help create the conditions for a durable peace between Artsakh and Azerbaijan,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “First put forward by former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce and current Chair Eliot Engel, these cease-fire strengthening proposals enjoy the support of Artsakh, Armenia, the United States, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.”
The text of the Chu Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020 reads as follows:
It is the sense of Congress that United States interests in the stability of the Caucasus region and the continuation of the Nagorno Karabakh cease-fire will be advanced by an agreement among regional stakeholders on:
1. The non-deployment of snipers, heavy arms, and new weaponry along the line-of-contact;
2. The deployment of gun-fire locator systems on the line-of-contact; and
3. An increase in the number of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe observers along the line-of-contact.
The Royce-Engel initiative, first proposed in Fall 2015, received the support of over 100 U.S. House members through a series of Congressional calls to the U.S. Administration and the OSCE to take concrete action to ensure Artsakh peace as Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group mediated negotiations continue. The ANCA has launched multiple nationwide grassroots campaigns in support of the initiative, which has gotten support from the U.S. State Department and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, in addition to the Republics of Artsakh and Armenia. Azerbaijan remains the only obstacle to their practical implementation.