Analysis & Opinions - The Boston Globe

Biden Needs to Act on Nagorno-Karabakh

| Sep. 28, 2023

The president must stop sitting on his hands as Azerbaijan forces the Armenian population from the lands they have inhabited for more than two millennia.

When hosting his second Summit for Democracy in March, President Biden declared: "I'm proud to stand with all of you to defend those fundamental values we all share: justice, the rule of law, free speech, assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and our core belief in the interest of human rights for every single individual in the world."

Yet, six months later, the Biden administration largely continues to sit on its hands as the authoritarian regime of President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan succeeds in ridding the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which has been recognized as partly free by Freedom House, of its Armenian population.

Aliyev first tried to force Karabakh's Armenians into leaving by blocking the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. When that didn't work, the Azerbaijani authorities employed the military, killing hundreds and driving Nagorno-Karabakh's meager defense force to lay down its arms. That triggered the exodus of Armenians from the land they have inhabited for more than two millennia, which they call Artsakh. More than 50,000 out of Karabakh's 120,000 Armenians have been "forcibly displaced," fleeing to the Republic of Armenia, according to Armenian authorities' Sept. 27 estimate. Like Nagorno-Karabakh, the republic is classified as "partly free" by Freedom House. Moreover, its leader, Nikol Pashinyan, was invited to participate in the March 2023 democracy summit.

Yet, other than sending 85 soldiers to participate in a war game in Armenia and two senior officials offering some $11 million in aid, the Biden administration does not appear to have done much, at least not publicly, to stop or reverse the exodus from Karabakh (unless one counts the so far futile calls to Aliyev to express concern).

Of course, a hard-core realist can argue that, in this case, interests trump values for the United States. But the problem with that argument is that a number of key American national interests, as formulated in the report by the Commission on America's National Interests (which was issued in 2000 but remains valid), are also at stake in this crisis....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Saradzhyan, Simon.“Biden Needs to Act on Nagorno-Karabakh.” The Boston Globe, September 28, 2023.

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