Following intense questioning by Senators Barbara Boxer and Robert Menendez on a range of issues dealing with the Aliyev regime’s ongoing attacks against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and the demolition of the centuries old Armenian cemetery in Djulfa, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today approved the nomination of Richard Morningstar for US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“We would like to thank Senators Boxer and Menendez for spotlighting the Aliyev regime’s escalating violence and war-rhetoric against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and ensuring a robust confirmation process for the U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan nominee,” stated ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian.
“We need an effective U.S. envoy in Azerbaijan – one who will stand up to an autocratic regime which remains an obstacle to peace through its anti-Armenian attacks and vitriol. Upon full Senate approval, we look forward to working with Amb. Morningstar to ensure a balanced policy in the region which respects the right to self-determination of the people of Karabakh.”
In a statement submitted at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting earlier today, Senator Boxer outlined a number of issues she hoped Ambassador Morningstar would prioritize during his tenure in Azerbaijan. “It is absolutely critical that Ambassador Morningstar use his position to respond to and counter the Government of Azerbaijan’s escalating acts of aggression and threats against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” explained Sen. Boxer, who went on to call on the nominee to “urge the Azerbaijani government to comply with the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Minsk Group 1994 ceasefire agreement,” and carry out an investigation into the Azerbaijani demolition of the Armenian cemetery in Djulfa. Senator Boxer’s complete statement is provided below.
Ambassador Morningstar reiterated the blanket calls by Secretary Clinton urging all sides to “exercise restraint, comply with their obligations under the 1994 ceasefire agreement, and take the steps necessary for peace.” He then went on to explain, “If confirmed, I will work with U.S. Minsk Group Co-Chair Robert Bradtke and engage at the highest levels of the Azerbaijani government to urge respect for the ceasefire and strengthen its implementation.”
In response to a follow up question by Senator Boxer where she referenced President Ilham Aliyev’ recent proclamation that, “[Azerbaijan’s] main enemies are Armenians of the world,” Ambassador Morningstar was more direct. “If confirmed, I will make the case that irresponsible rhetoric is unacceptable and undermines our efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement of the conflict. I will urge the Azerbaijani government to show restraint in its rhetoric and to prepare its people for peace, not war,” noted Morningstar.