Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sen. Menendez Concerned About U.S. Military Sales to Azerbaijan

 Published on Jun 18, 2012 by ANCAgrassroots
On June 13, 2012, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) questioned U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan designate Richard Morningstar on the U.S. response to Azerbaijan's threats and attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh and expressed concern about pending U.S. military hardware sales to the Aliyev regime. In his questions to Morningstar, Sen. Menendez called specific attention to recent cross-border attacks by Azerbaijan against Armenia, threats by President Aliyev that "Armenian will live in fear," and the assertion that "Our [Azerbaijan's] main enemies are Armenians of the world." Menendez continued, asking "do you think, based upon those types of statements, that the proposed sales of military hardware to be used in conjunction with Azerbaijan's military helicopter fleet is really in the national interest of the United States?" Morningstar responded that "that it is fair to say, and I will say, that any language that is counterproductive, such as you have said, that any actions by any party that bring about loss of life, as the Secretary of State said last week, create increased tensions, can create escalations that can have unpredictable and unforeseeable consequences and make even more difficult the task of achieving the settlement in Nagorno Karabakh." He stopped short, however, of expressly calling out the Azerbaijani government's aggression against Armenia. In terms of military sales to Azerbaijan, Morningstar argued, "There are increasing tensions with respect to other neighbors, in particular with Iran. And we have to provide, I think, security assistance, possibly military assistance in ways that cannot be used to exacerbate any situation with respect to Armenia or Nagorno Karabakh." Menendez was quick to respond, reminding Morningstar that "I didn't hear President Aliyev say 'My main enemy or security concern is Iran,' he said that, 'Our main enemies are the Armenians of the world.' [. . .] I have a real problem with going ahead and selling military hardware to the Azerbaijanis based upon what has happened." For complete coverage of Mr. Morningstar's confirmation hearing, read the ANCA press release: http://www.anca.org/press_releases/press_releases.php?prid=2148


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