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Reps. Jackie Speier and Judy Chu Arrive in Artsakh, Defying Aliyev’s Travel Ban

October 9, 2019
In The News

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Jackie Kanchelian Speier (D-CA) arrived in Stepanakert for their first visit to the Republic of Artsakh, sending a powerful message to Azerbaijan’s Aliyev regime that threats to “blacklist” U.S. legislators will not deter them from traveling to Artsakh and engaging in democratic dialogue with its citizens, elected officials, and civic leaders, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

Representatives Speier and Chu are in Artsakh for a series of high-level meetings with Artsakh government officials and also to oversee U.S. humanitarian aid to the Republic, including de-mining efforts carried out by The HALO Trust. ANCA Western Region Board Member Raffi Sarkissian and ANCA Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan joined an Artsakh Government delegation including National Assembly Vice-Chair Vahram Balayan and National Assembly member David Melkumyan in welcoming the legislators to Stepanakert.

Upon arriving in Artsakh, the members of Congress held meetings with Artsakh President Bako Sahakian and Artsakh Foreign Minister Masis Mayilyan who briefed the lawmakers on the latest developments in the Karabakh conflict resolution process, as well as the current situation on the frontlines.

The two officials thanked Speier and Chu for their continued efforts to advance Artsakh’s right to self-determination and its independence within Congress. Sahakian and Mayilyan also emphasized the importance of broadening U.S.-Artsakh cooperation in hopes of strengthening relations.

Congresswoman Chu was at the forefront of defending Artsakh’s safety and security this summer, advancing the Chu Amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Bill, which advocates for the implementation of the cease-fire strengthening proposals originally put forward by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel and his predecessor, Ed Royce. The Royce-Engel proposals call for the placement of gunfire locators, an increase in OSCE observers, and a ban on snipers, heavy arms, and new weaponry along the borders between Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia and Artsakh. “Adopting them is necessary for ensuring those who violate the peace are caught and stopped, and that is what my amendment encourages,” Rep. Chu told the ANCA following passage of the measure in July, noting, “the campaign of terror against the people of Artsakh must end.”

“The ANCA welcomes Congresswoman Judy Chu’s visit to the Republic of Artsakh,” shared ANCA National Board member Levon Kirakosian. “We are proud of the grassroots work the ANCA of San Gabriel Valley has done with Congresswoman Chu over the last two decades to advance the Armenian Cause. We are also proud that the ANCA-Western Region will be honoring Congresswoman Chu at their sold-out banquet this year for her work advancing a free and independent Artsakh,” Kirakosian added.